, Salem, MA

December 27, 2012

Trip to the movies turns into trip to jail

Middleton man spends Christmas in custody after scuffle at 'Hobbit'


---- — DANVERS — Netflix customers weren’t the only movie fans whose Christmas Eve viewing plans were disrupted.

Roland Lemieux, 31, of 10 Kimberly Lane, Middleton, ended up on an “unexpected journey” of his own during a showing of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” at the AMC Loews movie theater in Danvers on Monday night.

Lemieux was arrested on a string of charges, including disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, after employees of the theater, inside the Liberty Tree Mall, reported that he was seen staggering around in the lobby, his pants falling nearly to the floor, demanding a refund and then buying tickets to another showing of the same film. They suspected he was drunk or high.

By the time Danvers police and mall security officers arrived, around 9 p.m., Lemieux and a woman, Lisa Vaslopoulos, 38, of Lynn, were inside another showing of the film, seated in the back row at the top of the stadium-style theater.

Vaslopoulos agreed to leave when asked. But Lemieux wasn’t as cooperative, prosecutor Heidi Sylvanowicz said.

He repeatedly demanded to know why police were asking to speak with him and began yelling. Then, police say, he stood up, put a box of concession-stand food on the seat and appeared to reach for his waistband, which led the officers to grab him.

He was led out of the movie theater yelling at the officers and calling out for his companion.

Later, police found two plastic baggies under the seat, a small “twist” with about half a gram of cocaine and a slightly larger bag that contained 8 grams, Sylvanowicz said during Lemieux’s arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court. Police added a charge of cocaine possession against Lemieux, who spent the holiday in custody at Middleton Jail.

Lemieux denied using cocaine, but told police that he hadn’t taken his prescribed medication that day. He later told the officers that he’d recently been a patient at a drug treatment program, for an addiction that started with painkillers he was given after a BMX bicycle accident.

He also told police that he wanted to go home, because his four children, including two who live out of state, were visiting him for Christmas.

His attorney, Leslie Salter, said her client was just enjoying a movie and was within his rights to ask police why they wanted him to leave.

“Everything was escalated by the police, not by Mr. Lemieux,” said Salter, who at one point re-enacted the various types of holds police said they used on Lemieux as they ushered him out of the theater. Salter also argued that there’s no evidence the cocaine under the seat belonged to Lemieux.

While Judge Michael Lauranzano was unwilling to grant a request by the prosecutor to revoke Lemieux’s bail in two other pending court cases, he set bail at $500 in the new case. It was not clear if Lemieux could come up with the cash right away.

Lauranzano did remark on the fact that Lemieux currently has five pending cases against him.

“Clearly, something’s going on,” the judge said.

It’s been a tough holiday season for Lemieux. On Thanksgiving weekend, he was arrested on charges of breaking and entering, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest after police found him hiding in a backyard shed in Beverly.

He’d allegedly fled there when police showed up to a Dunham Road home on a tip that two fugitives in a New Hampshire child abuse case, Roland Dow and Jessica Linscott, were hiding out in the home of a Beverly man. Dow and Linscott were apparently in Florida at the time, but Lemieux was wanted on warrants, so, police say, he broke into the shed to hide.

Lemieux is due back in court Jan. 23.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.