ATHOL — On Friday, July 15 at approximately 6:54 p.m., Officer Paul Forand of the Athol Police Department was dispatched to Pine Street after a resident reported several people harassing her and banging on her door.
According to Officer Forand’s Narrative for the incident, he drove past the residence right before the call came in.
“[I] drove past the residence approximately five minutes before [the resident] called Athol Dispatch,” wrote Officer Forand in his Narrative. “When [I] drove past the residence, there was a brown Toyota sedan in the driveway and two males sitting on the side steps of the neighboring building (shared driveway).”
When he arrived on scene, Officer Forand said the two men he saw sitting on the steps were gone, but one man was seated in the driver’s seat of the sedan.
“[I] identified the party seated in the front seat as Mr. Angel Rivera, the registered owner of the vehicle,” wrote Officer Forand in his Narrative. According to police, Rivera, 50, lives on Vincent Street in Springfield, Massachusetts.
While Officer Forand was identifying Rivera, Sergeant Jarret Mousseau arrived to assist him.
Other Athol police officers who reported to the scene were Officers Mike Vitale and Steve Adams.
Upon their arrival, Officer Vitale spoke with the resident who reported the incident and Officer Adams looked for the two men who had left the area.
“[I] asked Angel to step out of the vehicle and speak with him near the road as Officer Vitale spoke to [the resident] who was visibly crying and upset,” wrote Officer Forand in his Narrative. “During Officer Vitale’s conversation with [the resident], she stated that Angel has been at the residence before and is known to have firearms and knives. [The resident] also stated that Angel was there to collect an $80 debt for cocaine that was owed by her boyfriend.”
With this information, Officer Forand pat-frisked Angel to make sure he didn’t have any weapons on him (which he didn’t).
According to Officer Forand’s Narrative, when he asked Rivera if he was at the residence to “visit” the caller’s boyfriend, Rivera admitted to being there so he could collect the $80 cocaine debt.
Sgt. Mousseu then asked Rivera for his consent to search the vehicle after Officer Adams saw what he believed was a “push rod” in the car while checking for weapons. According to Officer Forand, “a ‘push rod’ is a small straight piece of metal wire that is commonly used in the process of smoking crack cocaine.”
“Angel gave verbal consent to check the vehicle,” wrote Officer Forand in his Narrative. “Officer Adams located a piece of metal coat hanger under the seat. Angel stated that he used the hanger to unlock his car through the driver’s side window when he locked his keys inside. Angel stated that he did not know what a ‘push rod’ was and stated: ‘I don’t do any of that.’”
While Officer Forand was speaking with Rivera, he put his hands in his pockets. When Officer Forand asked Rivera to remove his hands for “officer safety reasons,” Sgt. Mousseau saw a small, knotted plastic baggie fall from Rivera’s pocket, landing next to his right foot.
“Sgt. Mousseau, through his training and experience, believed the bag to be used to store and transport illicit drugs such as crack cocaine or cocaine for street level sales,” wrote Officer Forand in his Narrative.
While Officer Vitale read Rivera his Miranda Rights from a card he keeps in his pocket, Sgt. Mousseau asked Rivera if he had anything illegal on him. Rivera replied “no.”
After asking for permission, Sgt. Mousseau then searched Rivera’s pockets. In his right pocket was $499 in cash and a “half pack” of heroin wrapped in blue paper, which, according to Officer Forand, is a common way heroin is packaged for street sales. (A half pack is about 50 bags of heroin; a full pack is 100 bags).
Sgt. Mousseau then handcuffed Rivera, placing him under arrest.
In Rivera’s vehicle, Officer Adams found four half packs of heroin and seven baggies of cocaine in the pocket of his jacket which was in the backseat.
Throughout the vehicle, Officer Adams found 250 additional bags of heroin, a scale in the middle console, and a BB gun that resembled and handgun under the driver’s seat.
According to Athol Police Department’s arrest report for the incident, the heroin in Rivera’s possession was worth $1,650 and the cocaine he had was worth about $200.
Officer Forand concluded that Rivera was a drug dealer who doesn’t use because Rivera told police he didn’t use drugs, no personal use paraphernalia was found inside his vehicle, and during the booking process, Rivera’s phone rang at least once a minute with a new caller virtually every time.
Rivera was charged with Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Class B Substance with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of Class B Substance.
His bail was set at $3,540.
Rivera was arraigned in Orange District Court on July 18. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 20.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from July, that’s because I had to file a FOIA request to get the Personnel Narratives for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.