ROCKLAND, Maine — A Superior Court judge has rejected the effort of an Appleton man to get a full hearing to challenge a search warrant that led to his arrest on felony marijuana trafficking charges.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm issued an order last week in Knox County Superior Court that denies the request by 35-year-old Christian “Will” Neils for a full “Frank” hearing. A Frank hearing would have allowed Neils to challenge the warrant that was used on Sept. 21, 2010, to search his property. As a result of evidence found during that search, Neils was charged with aggravated trafficking and felony possession of more than one pound of marijuana.
Justice Hejlm ruled that the defense did not provide sufficient evidence to warrant a full hearing. A brief hearing was held March 28 in which Neils’ attorney Leonard Sharon of Auburn attempted to convince the judge that a full hearing should be granted to show that Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agent Kirk Guerrette was not a credible witness and that this should ultimately lead to the search warrant being voided.
Hjelm, however, disagreed in his order. He said the only evidence provided were affidavits filed by Sharon that refer to claims by others about Guerrette and his alleged excessive use of the sleep aid Ambien. The judge ruled that some of the information in Sharon’s filings were about Guerrette’s alleged Ambien use at a time that had no bearing on the September 2010 search.
“Other information is little more than ruminations. Some information was not relevant,” Hjelm stated in his order.
A telephone message was left for Sharon on Monday morning. No call has yet been returned.
Sharon had claimed that Guerrette used a 90-day supply of Ambien (360 pills) in 12 days.
The allegation of Guerrette’s use of Ambien was used more than a year ago by several attorneys representing 44 drug defendants to obtain records of the Healthcare Crimes Unit within the Maine Attorney General’s Office in an effort to attack the agent’s credibility. The attorney had said that the Healthcare Unit was investigating prescription practices by pharmacies in Maine and that part of that investigation led to information about Guerrette.
Guerrette had worked as an agent for MDEA, assigned from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, until December 2010. At that time he returned to the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Donna Dennison promoted him to lieutenant.
Guerrette said after the March hearing that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing. He said that all but three of the 44 criminal cases have been resolved. Neils’ case is one of those still pending in court.