EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 19, 2012

Police: Drug dealer with EBT card had $15K cash

'I can't find a job,' he tells police during arrest

By Mike LaBella mlabella@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — Shortly after police charged Richard Chase with selling illegal drugs, they said they searched his apartment and found $15,000 in cash, hundreds of Oxycodone pills, a police scanner and a list of area police scanner frequencies.

Before he was arrested, Chase used his government-provided EBT card to buy food at a convenience store, police said. When he was arrested, police found the Electronic Benefits Transfer card — otherwise known as food stamps — on him along with a receipt for his purchases. Chase told police “you got me” and said he’s been unable to find a job.

During his arraignment yesterday in Haverhill District Court, the 6-foot, 1-inch 355-pound Chase reached from side to side while handcuffed in an effort to pull up his pants, which appeared to be falling down. Throughout the hearing, he faced a rear wall, keeping his back to the courtroom, and spent most of the time looking out a rear window and sometimes at the judge.

“This is someone who used an EBT card about an hour before he was arrested,” Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said. “He has a nine-page record, he has access to cash, and Mr. Chase has been dealing with this sort of thing for years and years.”

Chase, 55, who up until yesterday lived at 12 Freeman St., third floor, was arrested Wednesday after police arranged to have an informant buy Oxycodone pills from him. During yesterday’s hearing, a woman addressed the court and said she owned the building where Chase was renting a room and that she wanted him out. Judge Stephen Abany approved her request to evict Chase, who responded by saying he would have one of his adult children remove his things from the apartment.

DePaulo asked the judge to hold Chase on $100,000 cash bail, saying he’s been dealing drugs for years, is known to police and has served jail time in the past.

“Police have been investigating Mr. Chase for some months and as a result of this continuing investigation detectives set up surveillance in different known locations where he hangs out and where we’ve received numerous complaints from citizens,” DePaulo said.

Chase is charged with possession of a class B narcotic drug with intent to distribute, distribution of a class B drug, trafficking in drugs over 200 grams, failure to stop for police, and driving to endanger. A police report said his record with the Board of Probation shows he was convicted in 1998 in Boston Federal Court of distribution of cocaine; and that he was convicted in 1995 in Haverhill District Court of distribution of class B and class D drugs, as well as possession of class A and class B drugs with intent to distribute.

Reading from a police report, DePaulo said police arranged for an informant to drive to Central Plaza on Wednesday and meet Chase to buy 20 pills from him. While police Sgt. Dana Burrill hid in the back seat, police said Chase walked up to the vehicle and sold 10 pills to the informant for $60, which police had provided the informant from a narcotics drug fund.

After the sale, Chase returned to his green 1996 Lincoln Town Car, which was parked on Bethany Avenue, and drove off, police said. A chase ensued onto Ginty Boulevard, where Chase drove over the median strip and was driving on the wrong side of the road, police said. The chase continued up Main Street and onto Summer Street, where Chase finally stopped. Detectives Thomas Howell and Sonny Greenwood also took part in the pursuit, according to the police report.

Police searched Chase’s car and seized 119 5-mg Oxycodone pills, according to a police report. Police searched Chase and found $60, 10 Oxycodone pills, his EBT card and a receipt for items he bought with the card.

According to the police report, while transporting Chase to the police station for booking, Burrill said to him, “You should have known better after all these years,” to which Chase replied, “I can’t find a job.”

During questioning, Chase was evasive about his address and said he no longer lived on Freeman Street, according to the police report. Det. Michael Shinners visited the three-story building where police believed Chase lived, the report said. A tenant told Shinners he did not know anyone by the name of Chase. Asked if he knew anyone who drives an older green Lincoln, the man described Chase and said he lives on the third floor, the report said. The man escorted Shinners to a third-floor apartment and pointed to an apartment door. He told Shinners that Chase had been living there for about a year and that he “is always on the phone,” according to the report.

Another tenant said Chase often sits in his Lincoln outside the building and that he meets with many people who walk up to him or stop their cars and meet with him, police said.

Shinners waited for other detectives to arrive before they executed a search warrant for Chase’s apartment. Police seized $15,247 in cash, 932 5-mg Oxycodone pills, a police scanner and a list of area police department frequencies, and a large number of door keys with tags that appeared to be for businesses in Amesbury, according to a police report.

Court-appointed defense attorney Amanda Barker asked the judge to impose an “affordable” bail amount. She said Chase has adult children in the area and is not a risk to flee. Abany reviewed Chase’s court record and said that to his credit, “he doesn’t seem to default much.”

“But to his detriment, his nine page record is littered with convictions for the same thing,” Abany said in reference to Chase’s past convictions on drug charges. “And as the prosecutor pointed out, it seems he had $15,000 on him.”

Abany said there appeared to be a 10-year gap in which no charges were brought against Chase. DePaulo responded, saying, “I just found out he spent 10 years in federal prison in Maine.”

Abany ordered Chase held on $100,000 cash bail. He said Chase’s attempt to elude police during the car chase was “not a good sign.” A probable cause hearing is Nov. 14. Abany issued Chase a 60-day warning, meaning if he posts bail he must stay out of trouble or risk being held without bail for up to 60 days.