, Salem, MA

Local News

October 26, 2013

Skeptical drug dealer gets three years

SALEM — A skeptical drug dealer with bad timing will spend the next three years in state prison after pleading guilty to a string of charges yesterday in Salem Superior Court.

Matthew Penny, 35, of Peabody was in a Buick Riviera parked outside Bay State Billiards on Dodge Street in Salem on June 28, 2012, when a plainclothes officer spotted another man get into the car and engage in what looked like a drug deal, according to police and prosecutors.

Patrolman Thomas Pelletier, who just happened to be in the lot at the time, approached the customer, who had three oxycodone pills he said he had just purchased from Penny.

But when Pelletier held up his badge and tried to get Penny to get out of the Buick, Penny refused, asking, “How do I know it’s real?”

Then, he appeared to start to back out of the parking space. Pelletier stepped behind the car to try to stop him, but Penny kept backing up, leading Pelletier to draw his gun.

Still, Penny continued, hitting the officer’s legs.

“This is a real gun,” Pelletier yelled. That got Penny to stop.

Police found cash and 128 assorted pills, including 106 oxycodone pills and several pills each of methadone, Opana and Suboxone.

Penny was charged with four counts of possessing a class B controlled substance with intent to distribute, and because of a 2004 drug distribution conviction, the charges were considered a subsequent offense, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. He was also charged with distribution of a class B substance, the oxycodone he sold to the other man, and with one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, the Buick he backed into Pelletier.

Under the terms of a plea agreement reached between prosecutor Jennifer Kirshenbaum and defense attorney Kathryn Cox, Penny pleaded guilty to all of the charges and received the three-year term from Judge Howard Whitehead.

After his release, Penny will be on three years of probation on the assault charge, during which he’ll be required to undergo drug treatment and submit to random drug tests, the judge ordered.

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

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