By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — A city highway department employee was arrested for dealing rock cocaine and morphine Thursday night, and his landlord says other public employees may have been among his customers.
Jonathan Hernandez, 23, was 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 an drug task force investigation into drug sales at the Groveland Street apartment building where he was living, detectives said.
Pamela Rosengard, who owns the five-family home at 94-98 Groveland St. where Hernandez was living, said she’d been receiving many reports from other tenants of cars and trucks, including city vehicles, stopping at the building for short periods of time and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Rosengard said license plate numbers and descriptions of those vehicles were turned into police.
Rosengard’s lawyer, Kimberly Zizza of Haverhill, said in court yesterday her client wanted Hernandez evicted as a result of Thursday’s drug raid. She said that by law, a landlord can request a 24-hour eviction of tenants who’ve been arrested for dealing drugs.
“My client along with other concerned people have been monitoring this apartment,” Zizza said, adding that, “City trucks and city workers were patronizing him.”
Mayor James Fiorentini said Hernandez has worked for the city’s Highway Parks Department for about a year as a laborer and is paid approximately $30,000 a year.
“He has been suspended immediately without pay,” Fiorentini said. “If he is convicted, he will be terminated.”
Fiorentini said he would not respond to comments made in court regarding city vehicles stopping by Hernandez’ apartment.
“I’ll refer comments to police and I’m sure they will conduct a thorough investigation as they always do,” the mayor said. “The city as a matter of policy never comments on ongoing investigations.”
Police Detective Robert Rogers wrote in a report that on Thursday he applied for and received a search warrant for Hernandez’ apartment and executed that warrant along with other members of the DEA Cross Borders Initiative, a local drug task force.
The report said surveillance of the apartment building was set up and at approximately 5:15 p.m. and when Hernandez arrived in his vehicle, detectives told him they were there to execute a search warrant. At the same time, Rogers and other DEA agents knocked on Hernandez’ apartment door and his live-in girlfriend answered. The woman let the detectives in told them Hernandez carries around his drugs in a black nylon bag that is always with him.
Rogers wrote in his report that the bag Hernandez was carrying 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 1/2 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. Detectives searched Hernandez and found $813 along with 1/2 of a pill believed to be Oxycontin. Hernandez was arrested and transported to the Haverhill Police Station for booking.
According to court documents, after he was booked, Hernandez was released at 10:48 p.m. on $40 bail.
Zizza said that after Hernandez was arrested and posted bail for his release, he returned to the apartment building and began “banging on other tenants’ doors.”
“His behavior last night was erratic,” Zizza said.
Following yesterday’s hearings, Rosengard told The Eagle-Tribune that Hernandez began renting an apartment from her three months ago and that since he moved in there have been problems with vehicles and people coming and going from the building.
“I warned him before and he told me you can’t stop me from having company,” Rosengard said. “Thanksgiving was horrible. I was getting calls all night.”
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 that he be held on bail.
Judge Stephen Abany said he was prepared to issue an eviction notice, but Hernandez agreed to voluntarily move out of the apartment. Abany allowed him to remove his personal belongings. Abany asked Hernandez if he had anywhere to stay, and he told him his mother lives in Haverhill.
Abany ordered Hernandez to appear in court Jan. 10 for a pretrial hearing.