EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a corrected version of this story. Due to an editing error, a reference to the House of Mitch ioncorrectly indicated that the establishment is now closed. It is not; it is still very much open and located at 18 Rogers St. The Times apologizes for the error.
A local attorney who has defended clients in a number of drug cases is now facing a round of drug charges himself.
Gloucester police said Monday that detectives took Wesley Prevost, 52, of 24 Mystic Ave., into custody Friday afternoon on a charge of narcotics possession, ending what the department's incident report described as "several years" of reports from confidential sources.
According to police, officers arrested him after using an informant to conduct a "reverse sting" that nabbed Prevost as the buyer under a "controlled sale" at a Shepard Street residence. Most drug sting efforts target those selling drugs, not buying them.
Prevost faces a charge of possessing a Class B substance as well as a charge of resisting arrest. The case remains under investigation, police said.
Prevost has represented several defendants in drug and other local high-profile cases, including those involved in a 2008 heroin-induced rollover on Route 128, a 2010 crash in which a man hit a vehicle on Route 128 while he was high on drugs with his 4-year-old daughter in the back seat, and an attempted murder in 2011 outside the House of Mitch off Rogers Street.
Prevost did not return a call for comment on this story. His attorney, Ed Pasquina, said that all the facts and circumstances in the case will be accounted for in the trial process.
"But (until then)" Pasquina said, "he has a constitutional right to be presumed innocent."
Police told the Times on Monday that they started their investigation in November, after an informant told police that Prevost called him to purchase suboxone pills, which are used by doctors to used to treat opiate addiction. The report states that Prevost had done legal work for the source in the past.
Gloucester police Detective Sean Connors told the source not to sell the pills to Prevost, and the source agreed to do a reverse sting with the detectives, where the department would provide the pills for a controlled sale.
That sale happened Friday afternoon, police said Monday.
Prevost, according to the report, told the source he wanted to buy six suboxone pills for around $50. The sale happened in the house on Shepard Street.
When Prevost left, officers and Connors approached him and Prevost allegedly ran from police and fell.
Police, according to the report, had noticed Prevost place the bag of pills in his mouth before leaving the house. Police told him to spit out the pills, but he allegedly continued to resist arrest and tried to swallow the bag of pills. At one point, Connors tried to remove the bag from his mouth, and Prevost allegedly bit his thumb. Detectives Jeremiah Nicastro and Steve Mizzoni assisted in the arrest.
Officers recovered the $50 and the suboxone.
During the last several years, Gloucester police, according to the incident report, had received information from multiple informants that Prevost was involved in buying narcotics.
The report states Detective Connors had helped Prevost enroll in a rehabilitation program in 2006, though in 2007, police stopped him after he allegedly purchased around $3,500 worth of methadone wafers; methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat addiction to narcotics and to relieve severe pain, often in individuals who have cancer or terminal illnesses.
According to the report, officers told him he needed to "get himself some help or he would be subject to investigation and possible arrest."
The incident report also states that Prevost was allegedly telling clients of his about individuals in the court system who he believed were cooperating with police.
"That was a concern of ours," said Chief Mike Lane.
Lane said the department saw an opportunity and acted on it when they arrested Prevost.
Prevost was also arrested in 1996 for allegedly possessing with an intent to distribute a Class B substance. He was suspended from practicing law soon after, according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. Prevost was also suspended in 1998, and reinstated in 2002.
He told police that he hadn't followed through on rehabilitation.
"You hope he gets the help he needs," said Lane, "but we're looking for sanctions within the system,"
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.