SALEM — A former Salem man, already serving a two- to three-year state prison term on fentanyl distribution charges, will spend an extra six months in custody after admitting Monday to trying to smuggle drugs into Middleton Jail last spring. 

Eric Jalbert brought Suboxone, marijuana and tobacco, hidden in a body cavity, when he surrendered himself back into custody last April. 

Jalbert, at the time awaiting trial in a Salem fentanyl case, had been released on house arrest at his mother's home after contracting COVID-19 at Middleton Jail. But the judge at the time was not told that Jalbert's mother lived in privately-owned senior and disabled housing in Beverly, where residents are not allowed to have long-term guests, and where the residents are particularly vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus. 

When she learned about his living situation, and that Jalbert had been recorded by a GPS monitor going in and out of the building, the judge ordered that he be returned to custody. Jalbert surrendered that day. 

While booking him back into Middleton Jail on April 21, corrections officers conducted a body scan and spotted the items, the sheriff's department said last spring. 

During a plea hearing Monday in Lawrence Superior Court, prosecutors requested more additional time, one to two years, for Jalbert. 

The same judge who released and then rescinded that order last spring, Judge Kathleen McCarthy-Neyman, imposed a six-month term to be served after Jalbert completes the two- to three-year sentence he received after pleading guilty in the original case in July. 

The fentanyl case stemmed from a Salem police investigation in late 2018 and early 2019 into what was initially believed to be heroin distribution in the city. Police conducted a search warrant on the Gardner Street apartment where Jalbert and his girlfriend were living at the time and found more than an ounce of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate. Under a plea agreement, Jalbert pleaded guilty to reduced charges of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute. 

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis. 

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