SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 12, 2013

Police: Teen nabbed with pot

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — A Salem High School senior who was warned by a judge less than two weeks ago to stay out of trouble while he awaited trial on drug charges didn’t heed that warning, police say.

On Sunday night, Kenneth Belanger, 19, who lists addresses of 45 Lexington Ave., Gloucester, and 10 Becket St., Salem, was caught driving around Manchester-by-the-Sea with more than half a pound of marijuana, a scale and more than $1,000 cash in his Lexus sedan, police said.

Now he’s facing new charges of marijuana possession with intent to distribute and will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and obey a curfew while he awaits trial.

Belanger was first arrested, along with a passenger, on Feb. 23 after Salem police spotted a vehicle being driven erratically on Bridge Street near Webb Street. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a Class B drug and failing to obey a stop sign.

At his arraignment the following week, he was released without having to post bail, with that one condition: Stay out of trouble.

On Sunday, a Manchester patrolman reported seeing Belanger’s Lexus weaving back and forth on Route 127 just before 10 p.m., according to a police report.

The officer pulled the car over and immediately noticed the smell of marijuana. Belanger claimed that it was coming from four “roaches” (partially smoked marijuana cigarettes) in his ashtray. But police said the smell was more like fresh pot and asked if they could look around. Police say he agreed.

In a glove compartment, they found some marijuana and a digital scale. In a locked safe in the trunk, they found more bags of pot, as well as $1,043 in cash.

Prosecutor Patrick Collins urged a Salem District Court judge to revoke Belanger’s release in the earlier case, as well as to impose $5,000 cash bail on the new charges, saying the evidence suggests that Belanger is engaged in significant drug dealing, posing a danger to others, including other teens, on the North Shore.

Tom Burke, a lawyer representing Belanger yesterday, argued that his client was cooperative and has no adult record. He also rejected the suggestion that Belanger is dangerous.

“It’s a lot of marijuana,” Judge Dominic Paratore noted.

He set bail at $1,000 cash and said that if Belanger makes that bail, he’ll be subject to electronic monitoring and a curfew of 7 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on weekdays. He will also be barred from leaving his Salem home on weekends entirely.

He’s due back in court on April 9.

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