Leeds man sentenced on drug counts

Northampton, Hampshire County Courthouse, 05-05-2023

Northampton, Hampshire County Courthouse, 05-05-2023

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 02-10-2024 5:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Leeds man was sentenced to 3½ to 4 years in prison after pleading guilty Friday in Hampshire Superior Court to more than a dozen drug-related counts.

Casey Howard, 38, entered his change of plea before Judge Edward McDonough, admitting charges of possession with intent to distribute class A, B and E drugs, conspiracy to violate drug laws and one count of carrying a dangerous weapon. As part of the plea agreement, the commonwealth dismissed counts of assault and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and reduced some of the drug charges to a first rather than subsequent offense.

Howard’s sentence was backdated 423 days to the date he was arrested, Dec. 14, 2022, since when he has been jailed for lack of $30,000 bail, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Russo said.

Detailing the facts that he would have tried to prove at trial, Russo told the court that authorities took notice of Howard during a 2022 FBI investigation of methamphetamine trafficking that was focused on an associate of his, Travis Albano, who was in the Franklin County Jail at the time. Jailhouse phone conversations between the two indicated that Howard had left a stash of drugs belonging to Albano in a storage unit. Police found little when they raided the storage unit in December, but found something of a pharmacopeia when they saw Howard, who was wanted on a warrant from another case, driving a U-Haul truck and arrested him, according to Russo — various powders, pills, a quantity of LSD tabs, a pill press, cutting agents and other items suggesting a drug distribution business.

The dangerous weapon charge stemmed from an incident at Cahill Apartments in November 2022, Russo said, when police were called to remove a man threatening people with a knife. Police said Howard appeared to be under the influence of drugs and had a hunting knife on his person.

Defense attorney Thomas Estes said the plea agreement represented a fair outcome for his client. He noted that Howard’s father was in court, that he had the support of his family and that he had been taking college courses in jail.

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“He is a very bright individual,” Estes said. “He’s been using his time wisely.”