Attorneys seek dismissal of charges in Hermon bath salts seizure, say powder not illegal

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted April 10, 2013, at 10:12 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The attorneys representing a Texas man and woman indicted for being part of a bath salts distribution ring have asked that the charges against them be dismissed because the chemical makeup of the white powder seized is not the same as that outlined in the state law that bans the drug’s sale and use.

Hearings on the motions are scheduled to be held May 20 at the Penobscot Judicial Center.

Elizabeth Fuentes, 31, and Arthur Coy, 49, both of Houston, each pleaded not guilty Tuesday to aggravated trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs and unlawful possession of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs. Fuentes, who has been described by police as Coy’s girlfriend, reportedly traveled from Texas to Maine with him. The drugs were shipped to Texas and Maine from China, according to a previously published report.

“The discovery makes clear the alleged banned substances that forms the basis of these charges is Alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenon, also known as Alpha-PVP,” Bangor attorney Hunter Tzovarras wrote in the motion to dismiss.

That chemical compound is not listed under the statute that defines synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, the attorney argued in his motion. The Maine State Police Crime Lab tested the white powder and determined that it contained Alpha-PVP, the attorney said.

Tzovarras said Wednesday that he believes it is the first such challenge to the law that went into effect last year.

The attorney also challenged the statute for being too vague.

“In this case, even assuming the allegations are true, Ms. Fuentes could not have reasonably known Alpha-PVP was illegal in Maine,” he wrote. “If she read the statute and looked for Alpha-PVP, she could not know. If she took the time to learn the chemical composition of Alpha-PVP and then searched the statute for those chemicals, the statute would not tell her it was illegal.”

Coy’s attorney, Marvin Glazier of Bangor, filed a similar motion Tuesday.

Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson on Wednesday declined to comment on the motion.

Tzovarras declined Wednesday to speculate on whether he would appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court prior to trial if his motion is denied.

Fuentes and Coy were indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury March 27 along with Leonard D. Wells Jr., 53, of Greenbush and Stephen M. Warren, 29, of Corinth on drug and other charges in connection with the state’s largest-ever seizure of bath salts, according to a previously published report.

Warren is scheduled to be arraigned May 9 on one count each of aggravated trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, unlawful possession of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

Wells pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts of unlawful possession of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs and one count each of aggravated trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, violation of condition of release and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

Larson also is seeking the forfeiture of cash seized from Coy and Wells at the time of their arrests.

The four were arrested in mid-January while allegedly divvying up eight pounds of bath salts at a house in Hermon owned by Wells. They remained Tuesday night at the Penobscot County Jail unable to make bail.

A hearing on a motion to lower Coy’s bail from $300,000 to $200,000 cash also is scheduled for May 20.

Trial dates have not been set.

If convicted of the most serious charge of aggravated trafficking, each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/04/10/news/bangor/attorneys-seek-dismissal-of-charges-in-hermon-bath-salts-seizure-say-powder-not-illegal/ printed on July 24, 2014