SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 13, 2014

Discovery of rifle, pot leads to charges

Defense says suspect has prescription for medical marijuana

BEVERLY — As a court clerk read the charges against him yesterday, including illegal possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number, Roberto Torres, 21, tilted his head back, smiled and appeared to roll his eyes.

During his arraignment in Salem District Court, the former Beverly man, who told police he’s homeless and his lawyer that he’s living with an aunt in Lynn, pleaded not guilty to the firearms charge and charges of possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and threats to commit a crime.

But Beverly police say they caught him red-handed, while they were conducting surveillance near the Beverly commuter rail station and Park Street Tuesday evening. Torres, who has a record dating back into his teens, was carrying a large blue bag that contained a .22 caliber Winchester rifle when he got off of a train, police said. He does not have a license to own or carry a firearm.

He is now being held on $10,000 bail, both on the gun charges and on an earlier threats case, in which he allegedly tried to reconcile with a girlfriend after getting out of jail last December, only to learn that she’d met someone new. Torres allegedly told the woman that if he saw her with her new boyfriend, he would “open fire.”

Torres, who has other pending cases and is also on probation, was spotted by three Beverly detectives, Sgt. David Faustino and Patrolmen Dana Nicholson and Darlene Prinz, as they were watching for suspected drug activity near the train station, an investigation triggered by numerous complaints during the past year.

The detectives saw him walk up to a man who had been waiting in the area and then saw the two sit down on a bench outside the Beverly Depot restaurant and appear to exchange something for cash, prosecutor Michael Varone told Judge Michael Lauranzano.

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