SALEM — A man and woman from Salem were selling heroin out of a home on Gardner Street, police say, and when they showed up with a search warrant on Friday evening, they found nearly an ounce and a half of the drug.
Salem District Court Judge Allen Swan granted a prosecutor's request to set bail at $100,000 each for Eric Jalbert, 30, and Jessica Cote, 35, both of 14 Gardner St., Salem, following their arraignments late Tuesday afternoon on charges of trafficking in heroin and possession with intent to distribute the drug.
"You're (expletive) kidding me," Cote called out as court officers led her out of the courtroom.
Among those in the gallery waiting for the arraignment for much of the day were two families who lost loved ones to the opiate epidemic.
One of them, Lucy Kohler, said her late son knew Jalbert, though not as a friend.
Prosecutor Michael Varone told the judge that Salem police had learned through a confidential informant that heroin was being sold out of the second and third floor apartments on Gardner Street.
They began investigating, conducting a series of purchases using an informant, Varone said. Jalbert made two of the sales, while Cote made the third, the prosecutor said.
When police showed up on Friday evening with a search warrant, they first encountered Cote, walking a dog in the driveway.
She denied knowing anything about drugs, Varone said.
Inside, Jalbert took responsibility for the drugs police knew they would find, directing them to a fake soda can in the bedroom.
A total of five bags, containing 40 grams, $555 in cash and two cellphones, along with packaging material, a scale and suspected "cutting" material to dilute the drugs, was also found, said Varone.
Police also found a notebook with names of customers and amounts of money owed, said the prosecutor.
When the prosecutor said one bag of white powder they suspect the pair were using to dilute the heroin was labeled "cookie mix," Cote blurted out in the courtroom that it was for a Christmas party.
Varone noted that Cote had so many defaults in one prior case that she turned a six-month period of probation into three years.
Jalbert's attorney, Edward McNaught, said his client had no prior record and had worked steadily at various jobs over the years, including landscaping and working for a tree service after graduating from Beverly High School.
He asked the judge to release Jalbert on a bracelet to live with his family in Beverly.
Cote's attorney, Michael Splaine, said his client has lived with her family most of her life at the Gardner Street address, and has strong ties to the community. Cote once earned a nursing degree from a community college and had been a manager at a collection agency until they shut down.
"She's a responsible person," said Splaine, pausing to shush his client.
Swan was not persuaded, granting the prosecutor's request for $100,000 bail on each.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20, but because of the amount of drugs involved, the case could be presented to a grand jury for indictment.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.