ATHOL – On Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, Detective Corey Chauvette of the Athol Police Department was working the 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. shift undercover in collaboration with the Northwest District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force (NDATF).
(The account and quotations in this article were taken from the printed Personnel Narrative of Det. Chauvette.)
At approximately 9:53 p.m., Det. Chauvette was on Freedom Street when he saw a man wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt stumble-walk his way through the parking lot of Ocean State Job Lot.
“As I observed the individual, I observed that he was extremely unsteady on his feet, swaying side to side and appeared to be ‘tweaking,’” Det. Chauvette said. “The individual appeared to be nervous and he was frequently looking all around him.”
According to Det. Chauvette, the parking lot of the Ocean State Job Lot located at 62 Freedom Street is a low-lit area that is commonly used for individuals to “meet up” after business hours.
“The individual was standing directly under a light post which had a high cement base structure attached to it,” Det. Chauvette said. “The individual kept leaning down towards the cement barrier as if he was snorting something off the base.”
Det. Chauvette began to drive toward the man. As soon as the headlights of his vehicle illuminated the area, the man began furtively scooping items off the base of the light post and shoved them into his pockets as he walked away.
Det. Chauvette circled the man in his undercover vehicle, parked in front of him, and exited in such a way that the man could see his police badge and vest “in clear visible sight.”
The man identified himself as George Chapalonis and explained that “he was just looking for his bank card and his money.”
Chapalonis, 53, is a resident of 237 South Street in Athol. According to police, he works for Manny’s Appliances.
Det. Chauvette said Chapalonis appeared “extremely rigid and antsy” as he spoke with him.
“Mr. Chapalonis continuously dropped items which were in his hands and was bouncing all over the place,” Det. Chauvette said. “Based on my training and experience I am aware that individuals who use narcotics, such as heroin, will act in this manner while under the influence of narcotics. Mr. Chapalonis’ pupils were pinpoint.”
According to Det. Chauvette, Chapalonis then began to empty his pockets; as he did so, he told the officer that he was trying to put his wallet in his pocket.
“I asked Mr. Chapalonis what he was hiding in his pocket and he stated his wallet,” Det. Chauvette recounted. “I asked Mr. Chapalonis what he was doing over near the light post and he stated, ‘I was just looking for my bank card and my money.’”
Det. Chauvette told Chapalonis that he observed his actions at the light post and they were “suspicious enough to draw his attention to him.”
“I advised Mr. Chapalonis that I witnessed him shoving stuff in his pockets the second I started driving towards him,” Det. Chauvette said. Chapalonis responded saying, “I don’t want to go to jail, please.”
“Without being instructed to do so, Mr. Chapalonis removed a white wax bag from his pocket and held it up in front of me,” Det. Chauvette said.
Det. Chauvette quickly identified the wax baggie as typical heroin packaging.
Det. Chauvette told Chapalonis to return to the light pole he was initially standing by while he called for backup.
“For safety reasons, I instructed Mr. Chapalonis to empty out his pockets and place the items on the cement barrier,” Det. Chauvette said.
Det. Chauvette then advised Chapalonis of his Miranda Rights, after which Chapalonis said he understood his rights, adding that he would answer questions.
According to Det. Chauvette, Chapalonis removed approximately nine wax baggies with blue stamps on them from his pockets.
“Mr. Chapalonis stated that the bags were ‘full,’” Det. Chauvette said.
At this time, Officer Steven Adams of the Athol Police Department and State Trooper Brian Vadalius (State Police Athol) arrived on scene to assist.
“I advised Mr. Chapalonis that he was being placed under arrest and handcuffed him behind his back,” Det. Chauvette said. “Officer Adams searched Mr. Chapalonis and later secured him in the rear of his marked cruiser. During the search of Mr. Chapalonis, he removed a small clear baggy with a brown, hard substance. Mr. Chapalonis stated that the brown substance was ‘powder heroin.’ Mr. Chapalonis eventually admitted he had what he believed was three empty ‘bags’ and the rest still contained heroin.”
Chapalonis was charged with Possession of a Class A Substance (heroin).
Officer Adams transported Chapalonis to the Athol Police Department for booking.
Chapalonis’ bail was set at $40 and he was released on his own personal recognizance.
Chapalonis was arraigned in Orange District Court on Aug. 7.
He attended a pretrial hearing on Oct. 6.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from August, that’s because I had to file a FOIA request to get the Personnel Narratives for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.