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Worcester T&G

Craig S. Semon TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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GARDNER- Authorities seized 5 kilos of pure Colombian cocaine and arrested three people, including two accused of masquerading as Worcester County deputy sheriffs when they allegedly assaulted and robbed at gunpoint two Mexican nationals, taking their drugs.

"This right here is enough to choke a whole herd of elephants," said Gardner Police Lt. Gerald J. Poirier, referring to the seized cocaine displayed on a table at the Gardner Police Department yesterday.

The cocaine, with an estimated street value of $500,000, was seized Friday night by the North Worcester County Drug Task Force. Several kilo-sized wrappers were found in one of the alleged perpetrator's apartments, leading authorities to believe that there may be more cocaine to be found.

"We found three or four kilo-sized wrappers inside the apartment," Lt. Poirier said. "They were broken open and the cocaine was gone. There may be three or four kilos of cocaine out there somewhere else, but we don't have it yet."

Gardner Police Chief Neil C. Erickson said two armed men dressed in Worcester County deputy sheriff uniforms conducted a phony drug raid Wednesday morning in room 17 at the Town Crier Motel in Westminster.

First, the deputy sheriff impersonators went to the manager's office and were able to persuade the manager to turn over a passkey to room 17, Chief Erickson said. Police said the impostors unlocked the door and entered the room with guns drawn.

Chief Erickson said, "These two male subjects approached the manager of the Town Crier, and, as you can see with the jackets and the hats and the gun belts, told them that they were looking for particular person in a room and received a passkey to make an entry into that room."

The suspects assaulted the occupants of the room, who were both men and Mexican nationals. The suspects left their victims bound and gagged inside the room and drove away in the victims' vehicle, which had Illinois license plates, the chief said. They took with them the cocaine, which was packaged in multiple 1-kilo units, the chief said.

The next day, when checking on the guests in room 17, the manager found the victims bound and gagged. The Westminster Police Department was called. Westminster Detective Jeffrey Shampine conducted the initial investigation.

Russell Jones, 23, of 2 Wright St., Gardner, and his girlfriend, Katherine Lindquist, 23, of 187 Center Road, Shirley, were arrested at 7 p.m. Friday. They were stopped on Emerald Street in Gardner.

Dean Bouchard, 24, of 63 Pacific St., Fitchburg, was arrested at 7:30 p.m. Friday in his home.

The cocaine was seized from a motor vehicle belonging to Miss Lindquist, Chief Erickson said. A search of the vehicle's trunk yielded the 5 kilos of cocaine, guns and sheriff uniforms, he said.

The seized cocaine is believed to be a partial recovery of the larger amount of cocaine that was stolen from the Mexicans in Westminster earlier in the week, police said.

A subsequent search of Mr. Jones' home yielded an additional weapon, a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun with ammunition, and several empty kilo-size cocaine wrappers, police said.

The kilos were wrapped with plastic wrap and smeared with motor oil or grease in an attempt to fool drug-sniffing dogs, Chief Erickson said. He said preliminary findings indicate that this particular drug shipment probably came from Chicago.

"At least what we can identify at this point," Chief Erickson said. "It appears that there was some eight kilos of cocaine at one point, five of which we have here."

While Westminster police initially led the investigation and Fitchburg and Gardner police made the arrests, all involved see it as a victory for the North Worcester County Drug Task Force, which encompasses the cities of Gardner, Fitchburg and Leominster, as well as several neighboring towns, including Westminster.

Mr. Jones and Miss Lindquist are both being held on $100,000 bail in the Gardner lockup pending arraignments tomorrow in Gardner District Count. Each is charged with trafficking of cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of firearms during the commission of a felony.

Mr. Jones - and Mr. Bouchard, who is being held on $50,000 bail in the Fitchburg lockup pending arraignment tomorrow in Fitchburg District Court - will face additional charges of impersonating a police officer, breaking and entering in the nighttime, armed robbery, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Pending further investigation, additional charges may be forthcoming.

The Worcester County deputy sheriff uniforms were acquired at Trippi's Uniform Inc., 268 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, police said.

Fitchburg Police Chief Edward Cronin said the drug bust is a sad testament about the destruction and violence going on in our communities today, while the unlawful use of law enforcement uniforms shows to what lengths these criminals will go to achieve their goals.

Anthony M. Trippi, who owns the 87-year-old family-run Trippi's Uniforms, said it is not illegal for a civilian to buy a police uniform.

"It's not against the law to buy it. Somebody could buy it for play. But, if you use it in an unlawful way, like an impostor, that's the problem," :?: Mr. Trippi said, in a telephone interview from his home yesterday. ``Just like with guns, it's legal to buy them, but how do you stop them from being used illegally?"

He said the company originally sold suits and tuxedos, but 15 years ago began selling uniforms for police, firefighters, medical personnel and others. More than 50 police and fire departments in Central Massachusetts purchase the uniforms, which sell for about $100 The company also sells accessories, but no guns.

The store keeps a record of everyone who buys uniforms. He said that's how police were able to track down the suspects. In order to purchase a badge or insignia for a police department, a person would have to provide proof of employment, he said. The suspects already had badges when they came in to buy the uniform, he said.

"We're going to stay diligent about getting the identification of people. I don't know how you can do anything more than that," Mr. Trippi said. He said this is the first time he has heard of one of his uniforms being used by an impostor.

Elaine Thompson of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.

Its amazing a uniform supply store would sell uniforms and badges to just anyone!!
 

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They already had the badges; it sounds like Trippi's sold them the uniforms on the basis that they were deputies with a badge.

I think it will be interesting to hear where they got the badges, if it is ever determined or released.
 

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"It's not against the law to buy it. Somebody could buy it for play. But, if you use it in an unlawful way, like an impostor, that's the problem," Question Mr. Trippi said, in a telephone interview from his home yesterday. ``Just like with guns, it's legal to buy them, but how do you stop them from being used illegally?"
Looks like I am going to spend my $1000 somewhere else. The greed is just incredible. :DP:
 

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PBC FL Cop";p="61066 said:
At the very least, one should have to present an ID along with a badge!!!
Agreed, but it takes all of ~15 minutes to create a very convincing ID with a computer, a ink-jet printer and some knowledge of how to use basic Microsoft Office software! It takes even less time to create letterhead stationary!
 

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The Worcester County deputy sheriff uniforms were acquired at Trippi's Uniform Inc., 268 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, police said.
Add this place to my black list.

Anthony M. Trippi, who owns the 87-year-old family-run Trippi's Uniforms, said it is not illegal for a civilian to buy a police uniform. ... "We're going to stay diligent about getting the identification of people. I don't know how you can do anything more than that,"
Apparently you werent being diligent enough gramps.

Agreed, but it takes all of ~15 minutes to create a very convincing ID with a computer, a ink-jet printer and some knowledge of how to use basic Microsoft Office software! It takes even less time to create letterhead stationary!
True, but none of that means anything if they aren't going to check the credentials. And, while it may be convincing to Joe Citizen, you would think (hope) that a uniform shop would have some familiarity with the appearances of the ID card or letterhead... but again, none of that means anything if they aren't going to check the credentials.
 

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LenS";p="61094 said:
PBC FL Cop";p="61066 said:
At the very least, one should have to present an ID along with a badge!!!
Agreed, but it takes all of ~15 minutes to create a very convincing ID with a computer, a ink-jet printer and some knowledge of how to use basic Microsoft Office software! It takes even less time to create letterhead stationary!
Yeah but they are in the area and they should know what the id's and letterhead look like and who should be signing them and whatnot.
 

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It never fails to amaze how people with no clue can make the comments that they do.

First off, any one who has shopped at Trippi's can tell you that they check credentials.(obviously once they get to know you, they don't ask for id every time you buy something)

Second, it clearly stated in the article that it was the records kept by Trippi's that led to the arrest of the suspects.

Third as a point of interest, if you look at the picture that went with the article in the T&G, you'd see that the badges confiscated were correction officer badges. ( given the turnover at the jail I'd suspect that getting a hold of a couple of them isn't too hard.)

So finally don't dump on the Trippis, they do a good job and it was thanks to them that the jerks were caught.
 
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