LACONIA — A local business owner has been ordered held on $100,000 cash bail on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
Peter A. Dauphin, 42, of 19 Appleton St., appeared yesterday in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division. He was arrested Saturday night after police stopped him for allegedly squealing his car's tires while driving from Clinton Street onto Elm Street in Lakeport at 9:42 p.m.
After finding the plates on the car didn't match the registration, police performed an inventory search and allegedly found just over an ounce of what they believed to be methamphetamine in the vehicle and $2,000 in cash on his person.
Dauphin allegedly told them he was coming from his auto repair shop, Gilford Auto Repair, at 1428 Lakeshore Road.
According to redacted affidavits obtained from the court, after applying for and getting a warrant, police from Laconia and Gilford searched Dauphin's home and business. Laconia police allegedly found approximately seven additional ounces of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $44,000 and an additional $11,000 in cash.
In his brief hearing before Judge Jim Carroll yesterday, Dauphin was represented by Public Defender Justin Littlefield.
Laconia Police Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett asked for $100,000 cash bail, citing the seriousness of the crime and the danger it poses to society.
Littlefield argued that Dauphin was born and raised in Laconia and was not likely to flee.
Littlefield agreed that some cash bail was warranted but said Dauphin owns a business, has two people who rent bays and depend on him for an income, and a child who depends upon his support payments. He said Dauphin had one misdemeanor drug conviction in 1996 and a resisting arrest conviction in 2012.
While Dauphin has a business partner, Littlefield said the partner doesn't run the shop and it could fail without him. He asked Carroll to consider allowing some kind of surety bond but was denied.
"This is one of the largest methamphetamine arrests I've ever seen," said Capt. Bill Clary, speaking yesterday to the magnitude of the arrest.
Clary said there was evidence of distribution – packaging materials and scales — found in the search of Dauphin's house but there was no evidence of methamphetamine manufacturing.
Gilford Police Sgt. Chris Jacques said yesterday that police also found less than an ounce of heroin and a small amount of marijuana in the shop. He said police seized some electronics as well. Jacques said there was no evidence of methamphetamine manufacturing in the shop.
According to affidavits, police were on routine patrol when Dauphin allegedly "burnt out" or squealed his tires. The officer driving tried to catch up to Dauphin and noted he continued onto Sheridan Street at a high rate of speed.
Police said they stopped the car at the corner of Sheridan and Appleton Streets. Dauphin's house is at that corner.
According to internal policy, police must conduct an inventory search on a car if it is to be towed. Police removed the plates and, while preparing for the tow, allegedly found a small, black bag underneath the driver's seat that contained what they thought may be methamphetamine. At that point police stopped the inventory search and got the search warrants.
In the home, said affidavits, police found the rest of the methamphetamine in the master bathroom in the ceiling tiles above the sink. They also found two bundles of cash. Several items of clothing were found in the master bathroom and bedroom belonging to Dauphin linking him to the bedroom.
Jacques said the heroin and the marijuana were allegedly found during the search warrant for the shop and the cars that were in the shop but declined to say exactly where police found them.
Affidavits from court said Gilford Police allegedly found stolen N.H. State Inspection stickers.
Both Jacques and Clary said the investigation is continuing and further charges against Dauphin may be forthcoming. Jacques said it didn't appear any charges against anyone else would be filed as far as the Gilford search goes.
One of the mechanics who rents space from Dauphin at Gilford Auto Service said yesterday that police "turned the place upside-down" during their search. He also said police went through every car on the lot and in the shop including those belonging to customers.
The mechanic said the business is still open, however Dauphin does most of the transmission work so a few customers have retrieved their cars to get the work done elsewhere.
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