SALEM — A Salem man was ordered held on $100,000 bail Friday following his arraignment on an array of drug and firearms charges.
Rath Choun, 34, of 70 Palmer St., pleaded not guilty to a total of 13 counts, including charges of possession with intent to distribute MDMA (also known as the club drug Ecstasy), cocaine, fentanyl, crack cocaine, Xanax, and marijuana and THC products including vape cartridges and edibles; illegal possession of a firearm; and several other counts during his appearance in Salem District Court.
But police say that Choun was cooperative with a team of detectives who showed up at his apartment shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday with a search warrant, prosecutor Michael Varone told a judge.
Salem detectives had been working undercover, including making a series of purchases from Choun, for several weeks, Varone told Judge Robert Brennan.
"This has nothing to do with my family," Choun allegedly told the detectives. "It's all me."
Police say he then led them to a bedroom, where they found a cornucopia of drugs, including 12 ounces of marijuana, 18 THC vape cartridges and a dozen or so edibles made with chocolate and pineapple; three bags of MDMA pills totaling 106 grams (roughly 3 ounces) in weight; and smaller amounts of crack and powder cocaine, fentanyl, and more than $8,200 in cash.
They also found a loaded .380 caliber Diamondback handgun with a defaced serial number in his jacket on a bed, along with two 10-round magazines.
In addition, as a result of the raid, Choun is also facing charges of possessing codeine without a prescription, possession of a gun with a defaced serial number, possession of high-capacity magazines and ammunition, and being a felon in possession of a firearm — that last charge stemming from his prior conviction on firearms charges in 2008 in Middlesex County.
Varone urged Brennan to set $100,000 cash bail, pointing to the potential prison terms Choun faces if convicted, as well as his prior record, stretching back to his juvenile years.
Choun's attorney, Thomas Gately, suggested a far lower bail, no more than $1,000, citing his client's ties to the area as well as his willingness to lead detectives to the drugs in his bedroom once they showed up with the search warrant.
Gately said Choun had worked at a local restaurant until it closed, when he lost his job.
"I give him credit for standing up," said Brennan, referring to Choun's acknowledgement of the drugs in his apartment. "That's a lot of drugs, as well as a loaded gun." Considering that and Choun's record, the judge said he agreed with Varone's request for $100,000 bail.
A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6.
Taking part in the investigation and search were Salem police detectives Lt. Steve Bona, Sgt. Kevin St. Pierre, Deni Gaito, Robert Cunningham, Charlene Sano, Eric Connolly and James Bedard, and patrol officers Michael Ball and Randy Canela.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.