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ATTLEBORO - A South Attleboro man whose bust last year snared him in Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter's war on drug and guns was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to cocaine trafficking and gun charges.

Kevin M. Beland, 42, of 11 Beland Ave. in South Attleboro, was arrested June 4 last year in a major bust by Attleboro police and the Northern Bristol County Drug Task Force following a two-month undercover investigation.

In a raid at his home, police seized almost 70 grams of cocaine, $6,600 cash, a handgun, 60 rounds of ammunition and drug paraphernalia, according to authorities and court documents.

During the investigation led by city detectives Timothy Cook Sr. and James Cote, police used an informant kept under police surveillance to buy cocaine on five occasions from Beland, who has an extensive criminal record dating back to when he was a teenager.

Sutter, who personally prosecuted the case, was set to go to trial Wednesday in Taunton Superior Court. But Beland opted to plead guilty to the entire five-count indictment in a plea-bargain agreement. Beland was initially charged with trafficking more than 28 grams of cocaine, which would require a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. But Sutter agreed to reduce the charge to trafficking in more than 14 grams, which would give Beland a shot at getting out in 4 1/2 years.

Under the agreement, Beland was also placed on probation on a weapons charge for five years following his prison term. If he violates his probation by committing any new crimes, he will face an additional five years in prison, Sutter said.

Beland's case was the first major Attleboro area drug and gun case to be prosecuted under Sutter's get-tough policy for those crimes, and Sutter said Beland's sentence reflects that policy on seeking consecutive sentences on drug and gun crimes.

"These consecutive sentences for drug dealing and illegal firearm possession are exactly what I was talking about during the campaign, and what I've been talking about ever since," Sutter said.

"We are cracking down in order to send a message out to the criminals that they should change their behavior or face much longer sentences than they have seen before," Sutter said.

He praised the Attleboro, Norton and Mansfield detectives "for their hard work and skill in putting together the case against Mr. Beland."

The prison sentence Beland received pleased Cook.

"As far as I'm concerned, Sutter gets an A-plus on his stand against drugs and guns," Cook said.

Beland's lawyer, Daniel Rich of Norton, said his client cooperated with police when they raided his home and showed them where the contraband and gun were.

"Sam was just, but stern," Rich said. In addition to the trafficking charge, Beland pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of .38-caliber handgun with a ground down serial number, unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of a handgun in commission of a felony.

Sutter became involved in the case last year after a judge in Attleboro District Court spurned his efforts to hold Beland in jail without bail under the state's dangerousness statute in a new policy he instituted when he came into office.

Sutter eventually succeeded in holding Beland for 90 days before trial after he sought a grand jury indictment and got a superior court judge to order Beland jailed without bail.

However, Beland was eventually released on $10,000 cash bail when laboratory results on the drug and gun evidence were not completed within the 90-day time period.
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