Drug Items New Target for Court 

Drug Items New Target for Court 
Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2003 at 19:32:54 PT
By Doug Harlow, Staff Writer 
Source: Morning Sentinel 
Waterville — District Attorney Evert N. Fowle said Friday that police and prosecutors have agreed to seek a court petition for forfeiture of merchandise seized in a raid at a Main Street head shop April 10.Items including smoking pipes, bongs, water pipes, rolling papers and postal scales taken from Pandora's Box will be named in a non-criminal petition to be filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, he said.
"A civil petition for forfeiture under state Title 15 will allow us to forfeit drug contraband," Fowle said. "We haven't had many cases like this before." He said the items are valued at several thousand dollars. Forfeiture is the permanent loss of property for failure to comply with the law. Under state statute there would be no additional penalties, fines or jail time. Fowle said discussion this week with Waterville police was focused on whether to prosecute store owner Joseph Correale of Fort Fairfield under criminal law or to bring local charges under the city's 20-year-old drug paraphernalia ordinance. "For the municipal ordinance there was some concern of notice (of confiscation) concerning his stock in trade," Fowle said. "It was not the appropriate way to proceed." Fowle said his office could have brought misdemeanor criminal charges against Correale, but that process could take years to resolve, as was seen in the failed case against Happy Trails, a similar boutique four doors down Main Street from Pandora's Box. He said the quickest way to bring the matter to conclusion is a petition for civil forfeiture, in which the District Attorney's office would get a court order to not return the confiscated items as punishment for selling what the state says illegal paraphernalia. The state still has to prove that the items seized in the raid were drug paraphernalia. In criminal cases evidence must convince a judge or a jury that no "reasonable doubt" remains as to the guilt of the defendant. In civil forfeiture trials, the standard for a guilty verdict is the "preponderance of the evidence," meaning that the facts against the defendant are more probable than not. Pandora's Box, with another store in Presque Isle, had been open less than two weeks at 109 Main St. when Waterville police raided the store. It reopened April 11, but has not been open since. Police Chief John E. Morris said officers seized anything that they thought had to do with drugs —pipes, bongs, signs — even T-shirts. An estimated 250 pipes of various sizes and descriptions were seized, including a large brass hookah and other water pipes, 50 postal scales, plastic bongs, pipe screens and detoxification liquids used to flush a person's system of illegal drugs. The T-shirts, with pictures of marijuana leaves and stickers saying such things "Got Weed?" and "Stoner Chicks Rock," are to be used in court as evidence that the other items being sold were intended for illegal purposes. The shirts, incense and stickers probably will be returned to the owner, according to Fowle. Police also found a special mask attached to a pipe bowl designed to cover the smoker's face for easy access to the smoke, making their case against Correale stronger, he said. Other items on sale at the shop such as leather jackets, sex toys and erotic devices were not taken in the raid. Fowle said he hopes an agreement can be reached with Correale to speed up the court process. The items would be destroyed if the agreement is reached. Note: AG seeks forfeiture of seized merchandise. Source: Morning Sentinel (ME)Author: Doug Harlow, Staff Writer Published: Saturday, April 19, 2003Copyright: 2003 Morning SentinelContact: dcheever centralmaine.comWebsite: Articles:Police Weigh Options in Pandora's Box Raid Explains Pandora's Box Raid
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