I-91 traffic stop yields 110 bags of heroin

For the Gazette
Published: 10/2/2016 7:41:07 PM

GREENFIELD — Two Vermont men were arraigned in court after police allegedly found knives, marijuana and 110 bags of heroin in the vehicle they were driving during a traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Whately.

Benjamin Gramling, 26, of Cavendish, Vt., and Albert Hildreth, 37, of Chester, Vt., were arraigned in Greenfield District Court Friday on drug possession charges.

According to court records, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Kurt D’Angelo was patrolling the highway when he noticed a black Jeep speeding, following too closely to the vehicle in front of him and swerving over the white fog line, leading D’Angelo to pull it over.

Gramling, the driver, said the Jeep was not his own, and was unable to find the registration. D’Angelo noticed Gramling and his passenger, Hildreth, appeared to be very nervous and were visibly shaking.

According to his report, D’Angelo noticed multiple knives in the front passenger compartment, a knife in a sheath on Gramling’s right hip, a small amount of marijuana in a cubby hole above the radio, steel wool which D’Angelo said is often used to administer drugs, and a large marijuana plant in the rear cargo area.

After Trooper Daniel Pelletier arrived, D’Angelo removed Gramling from the vehicle and frisked him, when he found another knife on the driver’s side door and a pipe used for smoking marijuana, the report said.

According to his report, D’Angelo also learned that Hildreth had multiple drug, armed robbery and assault charges pending in four states. Based on the items seen in the vehicle, D’Angelo felt he had probable cause to conduct a search, and Hildreth and Gramling were placed in a cruiser.

During the search, according to police, Pelletier found a hypodermic needle and two rectangular yellow packages under the vehicle’s headliner. Each package contained five bundles of 10 wax baggies that contained a brown powdery substance police determined to be heroin.

Once the two were placed under arrest and charged with possession with intent to distribute a Class A drug, Hildreth claimed Gramling had heroin in his pants, though police were unable to find it. However, after they were transported to the Northampton State Police barracks, Gramling spit four wax baggies of heroin onto the ground. According to the report, a further search of his mouth revealed two more baggies, along with four more that were found in the back of the police cruiser.

Gramling was arraigned on charges of marked lanes violation, carrying a dangerous weapon, possession with the intent to distribute a Class A drug and conspiracy to violate drug laws. He also received a civil infraction for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana. Hildreth was arraigned on charges of possession with intent to distribute a Class A drug and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Both were able to post the $250 bail set for them. They are to return to court for a pretrial conference Nov. 9.

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