HAVERHILL — A city worker accused of intending to distribute illegal drugs was sentenced to one year of probation yesterday, after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
Jonathan Hernandez, 23, has been on unpaid leave from his job with the Public Works Department since police charged him with several drug offenses in December. He continues to remain on unpaid leave until the city can review the results of his court case, officials said.
Mayor James Fiorentini previously said that if Hernandez was convicted of the charges, he would be fired.
Yesterday, David Van Dam, the mayor’s chief of staff, said a decision on Hernandez’s employment status with the city will not be made until the results of his court case can be reviewed by the city’s Human Resources Department.
“The city will then make the appropriate decision as to how to proceed,’’ Van Dam said. “In the meantime, he’s on unpaid leave.’’
The woman who owns the apartment building where Hernandez was arrested said other tenants told her cars and trucks, including city vehicles, stopped there for short periods and people came and went all hours of the day and night.
Hernandez appeared yesterday in Haverhill District Court, where he pleaded guilty to possession of Class A and Class B substances. He was sentenced to one year of probation. Charges of possession to distribute Class A and Class B substances were dismissed at the request of the prosecutor. Hernandez was represented by defense attorney Israel Sanchez of Milford, N.H.
Hernandez was arrested Dec. 6 and charged with possession to distribute a Class B substance (rock cocaine), possession of a Class B substance (Oxycodone), possession to distribute a Class A substance (morphine) and possession of a Class A substance (Suboxone).
His arrest came after a police drug task force investigation into drug sales at the Groveland Street apartment building where he was living, detectives said.
His landlord said other public employees may have been among his customers. Pamela Rosengard, who owns the five-family home at 94-98 Groveland St. where Hernandez was living, said she receiving many reports from other tenants of city vehicles and other vehicles stopping at the building. Rosengard said license plate numbers and descriptions of those vehicles were given to police.
Van Dam said Hernandez began his job with the city in October 2011 and was employed as a motor equipment operator with the Public Works Department. He was paid $16.90 per hour, or an annual salary of $35,152. During his three-month unpaid suspension, he has lost about $8,700, based on his salary.
Yesterday, Judge Stephen Abany sentenced Hernandez to one year of probation and ordered him to pay a $50 victim witness fee and a $65 a month probation fee. Hernandez must remain drug and alcohol free and submit to random drug screenings. He was ordered to forfeit $813 police seized during his arrest and he must participate in the OCC Level III program, an intense level of community-based, criminal justice supervision. He must report to the Office of Community Corrections three times a week, according to court officials.
Police Detective Robert Rogers wrote in a report that on Dec. 6, he applied for and received a search warrant for Hernandez’s apartment and executed that warrant along with other members of the DEA Cross Borders Initiative, a local drug task force.
Rogers wrote in his report that during the search, Hernandez was carrying a bag that contained various drug and non-drug items, including a clear plastic bag containing a white rock-like substance believed to be Class B cocaine, Class A Suboxone pills that were in an orange pill bottle with no labels, vials of a crushed powdery substance believed to be Class A Suboxone, and half of a blue pill believed to be Oxycontin that was in a small clear plastic food container. Other items included two portable weighing scales, two crack cocaine smoking pipes, one portable grinder with marijuana residue, plastic baggies and rolling papers, the police report said. Detectives searched Hernandez and said they found $813 in cash, along with half a pill believed to be Oxycontin. Hernandez was arrested and taken to the police station for booking.
Kimberly Zizza of Haverhill, the landlord’s lawyer, said after the December arrest that her client wanted Hernandez evicted as a result of the drug raid. She said that by law, a landlord can request a 24-hour eviction of tenants who have been charged with dealing drugs.
At his arraignment Dec. 7, Hernandez was released on personal recognizance. Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo told the court that Hernandez did not appear to have a criminal record and that he was not asking Hernandez be held on bail.
At that hearing, the judge said he was prepared to issue an eviction notice, but Hernandez agreed to voluntarily move out of the apartment.