BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A former Salem public works employee has been indicted on a drug trafficking charge that could send him to state prison.
James Soper, 51, of 146 Bridge St., Salem, was charged after Salem police detectives watched him engage in what they say was a drug deal with a Lynn man, Jonathan Legault, 36, on the afternoon of Jan. 7 near the Kernwood golf course.
Soper was driving a city truck at the time.
Police say Soper admitted buying 100 oxycodone pills from Legault, who was found to be carrying $610 in cash and more than 450 oxycodone pills.
The indictment, handed up Thursday afternoon by an Essex County grand jury, moves the case from Salem District Court, where it has been pending, to Superior Court.
If convicted of trafficking of 18 grams or more, Soper faces a minimum mandatory 31/2 years and up to 20 years in state prison.
Legault, who was indicted on charges of trafficking of 36 grams or more, faces a minimum mandatory five years and up to 20 years behind bars.