By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — When police arrested Stephen Arsenault earlier this week, he admitted to using a credit/debit card that was in the name of a dead man.
Arsenault, 24, told police he recently found the card when his girlfriend was getting ready to move into a River Street apartment that last summer was the scene of a shootout that ended in the death of 19-year-old Billy Melchionda of Haverhill and 20-year-old Anddy Guzman of Lawrence.
Arsenault said that after finding Melchionda’s card in the apartment, he used it to buy $42 worth of gas for his girlfriend’s car and $50 worth of lottery scratch tickets at a local gas station/convenience store. Arsenault said he signed the name “WM” and scribbled on the store receipt. He told police he knew he was trying to sign Melchionda’s name to the receipt and knew that Melchionda was dead. He said he tried to use the card the next day to get gas but that it wouldn’t work. He told police he knew that he did wrong by using Melchionda’s bank card.
Arsenault was arraigned Thursday in Haverhill District Court on two counts of larceny under $250, receiving a stolen credit card, identity fraud and forgery of a document. He was also charged with possession of Class A heroin. Arsenault was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail and must appear in court June 23. Arsenault was previously charged on May 15 with 17 counts of larceny by check and had been released on personal recognizance.
Melchionda and Guzman were shot to death the night of July 23 during a home invasion at Melchionda’s apartment at 629 River St.
Police said three masked men entered the apartment sometime between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Police reports showed the invaders’ motive was their belief illegal drugs and a large amount of cash were being kept in the home. Police said Guzman was one of the men who invaded the home and was accidentally shot during a violent struggle.
An Essex County Grand Jury eventually indicted three people on murder and other charges. Juan Carlos Sanchez, 20, of Lawrence and Joshua Cloutman, 20, and Angela Walsh, 21, both of 631 River St., were each indicted on two counts of murder, home invasion, armed robbery and armed burglary. Cloutman and Walsh, who police said lived in an upstairs apartment with their child and Cloutman’s mother, were charged with helping plan the home invasion in exchange for some of the marijuana the home invaders planned to steal from Melchionda’s apartment, police said.
None of their cases have come to trial yet, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.
In the days following the shootings, Melchionda’s mother, Jennifer Bodenraider and Billy’s father, William S. Melchionda reported to police that when they went to retrieve their son’s belongings from the apartment, most of their son’s valuables were missing. Bodenraider said many of those items were gifts from her and other family members, including a 42-inch plasma TV, a 50-inch LCD TV, an XBox 360 video game console and 60-70 XBox video games, a Movado wristwatch and gold Seiko diving wristwatch — gifts from her son’s grandfather; and two air conditioning units, a collection of baseball caps and a collection of baseball cards that his father gave him.
According to a police report, in the days following the shooting, the building’s landlord, Ronald Parolisi Jr., was questioned by investigators about the missing items. Parolisi said that after police turned the apartment over to him, he found a door had been kicked in so he secured it. He told police he hired his daughter and her boyfriend, Stephen Arsenault to remove blood from the apartment so that he could rent it out again, and that the apartment was left unsecured for a few days and that a window was left open, according to the police report.
Police said that on Monday (May 20 of this year) Melchionda’s mother came to the police station to say she’d been notified by Sovereign Bank that someone was using her son’s debit card. She told police the account was overdrawn and that her son, Billy Melchionda, had never activated the card when he received it. She said the card was in a wooden memory box inside his bedroom in his apartment, along with his social security card.
Police said Arsenault used the card twice on May 7 within a two-minute period at the Circle K Irving Gas Station in Haverhill. Police obtained store video surveillance showing Arsenault pulling into the station, putting gas into his girlfriend’s car and then entering the store to purchase scratch tickets, the police report said.
On Wednesday, Arsenault was the target of an arrest and search warrant. Police set up surveillance at his home, where they saw him drive off in a truck driven by a man who was subsequently identified as Christopher Doucette, 24, of 36 Keeley St.
Haverhill police with the assistance of state police stopped the vehicle for a stop sign violation. A search of Arsenault turned up several hypodermic needles, a shoelace and two plastic cups with lids. One cup contained a brown substance believed to be heroin while the other contained cotton balls saturated with what was believed to be heroin. He also had on him a single amphetamine pill.
Arsenault admitted to using Melchionda’s credit card, and told police it was in a bin in his bedroom, along with ammunition.
Police searched his bedroom and found 12 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition in a plastic bin, and found Melchionda’s debit card in another bin, the report said. Police also found bags of marijuana seeds in one of the bins.
Police searched Doucette and found a needle and a cup containing what appeared to be used heroin-saturated balls of cotton, along with two small bags of a brown substance believed to be heroin. Doucette was charged with possession of a Class A substance and a stop sign violation.
Arsenault told police he has drug problem that he’s been dealing with since February. He said he lives in his parent’s home along with his girlfriend and their child, the report said.
Police said that earlier this year, Arsenault opened an account at Haverhill Bank and subsequently wrote 13 checks to himself for $100 each, but the account had just 23 cents in it. Police said he also wrote his girlfriend two checks for $90 and two more for $100 from the same account, and those were cashed as well. After the bank notified police on March 1, investigators questioned Arsenault’s girlfriend, who said she did not know the checks were bad. Police said she reimbursed the bank $200 and promised to pay the balance of $177. Police questioned Arsenault, who said his friends all told him not to speak with police. Arsenault was arraigned May 15 on the larceny charges.