By BEA LEWIS For The Laconia Daily Sun
LACONIA — A Belmont man facing a 3 to 7-year prison sentence for drug sales remains on the lam after he ditched his sentencing hearing.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Joshua Levesque, 26, after he was a no show at the courthouse on Nov. 23. Levesque was scheduled to be sentenced a day earlier and had come to court, but when an overcrowded docket caused the hearing to be continued to the following day, he never came back.
On April 29, Belmont Police Officer Evan Boulanger stopped Levesque for speeding, but after learning there was a warrant for his arrest, took him into custody.
After Levesque refused Boulanger's request to exit the vehicle and was being dragged out as a result of his non-compliance, the officer spotted hypodermic needles and loose cash in $50 and $20 bills in plain sight.
Based on those observation, Boulanger obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and seized $2,043 in cash, methamphetamine and other drugs.
Levesque was charged with possessing the prescription drugs buprenorphine and alprazolam with the intent to distribute, possessing less than an ounce of meth and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.
In June, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office filed a petition in Belknap County Superior Court asking a judge to order the forfeiture of the seized cash, asserting that at the time of his arrest, Levesque was not employed and that the absence of any legitimate source of income supports an inference that the large cache of bills were the proceeds of drug trafficking.
As a result of a negotiated plea, brokered between Public Defender Eric Wolpin and Assistant Belknap County Attorney R.J. Meurin, Levesque was expected to receive a minimum prison sentence of 2 years, four months on the two drug distribution charges.
The plea deal called for a 3 to 6-year prison term suspended on the condition of three years' good behavior on the possession charge.
In August, Levesque dodged a fentanyl possession charge after a judge ruled the evidence and allegedly incriminating statements the defendant made was obtained after police unlawfully towed Levesque's car and questioned him without warning him of his rights.
Gilford Police Officer Curtis Mailloux stopped Levesque because the car he was driving had a broken taillight assembly that had been patched with red tape.
As he was standing near the driver's window, the officer testified that he noticed that the windshield was cracked and that the month number on the inspection sticker showed that it had expired more than a year earlier.
When he checked Levesque license status through dispatch, the officer said, he learned it was valid, but was wanted on a warrant issued by Rochester police for willful concealment.
Mailloux arrested Levesque on the warrant, and testified that he made the decision to tow the car as it was unsafe to drive and had not been inspected for more than a year.
Prior to any police-ordered towing, officers conduct a non-investigatory inventory search designed to protect the property
owner from theft by either the police and or the tow company as well as to shield police from false claims being filed against them and/or dangerous items in the vehicle. Nearly all police department have them and most of them are similar and based on provisions in New Hampshire law.
During a July court hearing, Officer Mailloux testified that when Levesque learned he was spending the weekend in jail, he began to cry. When the officer asked the defendant, what was wrong, he allegedly responded he was going to be sick from what he hinted was heroin withdrawal while in jail.
Judge James D. O'Neill III held that while the query may seem innocuous at first blush, police should have known given Levesque's demeanor and physical condition that it would likely elicit a response.
Following the disclosure, police continued to ask Levesque questions after he was told he would be charged with possession of fentanyl as a spoon found in his car had tested positive for the drug. In ruling that Levesque's statements could not be presented to a jury at trial, the judge found that police should have known that the questions would
prompt incriminating statements.
In August, Levesque was indicted for willful concealment as a thirds trike, after previously being convicted of burglary and felony theft.
Laconia Police charge that Levesque tricked the cash register at Wal-Mart by scanning a UPC barcode affixed to his hand to walk out of the store with a tool box and a travel bag valued at $221.24 for less than the advertised price.
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