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Alleged jailhouse drug plot foiled; 7 charged in secret indictments.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - Three people were arraigned yesterday in Worcester Superior Court on charges stemming from what a prosecutor said was a plot to smuggle drugs into the Worcester County Jail and House of Correction earlier this year.

The three and a co-defendant, who was arraigned Tuesday, were among seven people secretly indicted Monday by a Worcester County grand jury in connection with the case.

Leah Hamel, 20, of 8 Old Mill Lane, Templeton, and Elizabeth Goudreau, 26, of 135 Marcy St., Southbridge, each pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of delivering drugs to a prisoner, conspiracy to deliver drugs to a prisoner, conspiracy to violate the drug laws, being an accessory before the fact to the delivery of drugs to a prisoner, and being an accessory after the fact to the delivery of drugs to a prisoner.

Craig Blanchard, 26, also of 135 Marcy St., Southbridge, was arraigned on charges of delivering drugs to a prisoner, conspiracy to deliver drugs to a prisoner and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. He pleaded not guilty.

All three were released on their own recognizance by Judge John S. McCann, who placed them on pretrial probation and continued their cases to Jan. 24. As conditions of their release, all three were ordered to have no contact with the county jail in West Boylston.

Assistant District Attorney Sara Richardson said the smuggling plot, as revealed in tape-recorded telephone conversations that were intercepted by authorities, involved a jail inmate who was to be bailed out by one of the suspects in May. The inmate was then to ingest drugs.

The person who posted the bail was to request the bail money back, which would trigger the inmate's return to custody at the jail, Ms. Richardson said. Once the inmate was back inside the facility, he would pass the ingested drugs, according to the prosecutor.

Ms. Richardson had asked that bail for Mr. Blanchard, who has a pending firearms case in Worcester Superior Court, be set at $15,000 cash. She asked that Ms. Goudreau's bail be set at $10,000 cash and Ms. Hamel's at $5,000 cash.

A fourth defendant, Buffee Lee Warburton, 34, of 40R Milton St., was arraigned Tuesday on charges of delivering drugs to a prisoner, conspiracy to deliver drugs to a prisoner, conspiracy to violate the drug laws, being an accessory before the fact to the delivery of drugs to a prisoner and being an accessory after the fact to the delivery of drugs to a prisoner.

She pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance by Judge James R. Lemire, who continued her case to Jan. 24.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the other three defendants in the case, according to Ms. Richardson.

Secret indictments become public upon arrest or arraignment.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 15, 2011
Words:467
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