The Recorder – Former Gill man arraigned on drug trafficking charges
Published: 4/19/2022 5:37:02 PM
Modified: 4/19/2022 5:35:45 PM
GREENFIELD — The former Gill man charged with nine offenses following a 2021 dispute that reportedly resulted in him and his girlfriend barricading themselves in a cabin to escape gunfire pleaded not guilty to new charges in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Rufus Thomas, 41, was arraigned on a second or subsequent charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and a second or subsequent charge of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. A pretrial hearing regarding the 2021 charges was held during the same court session Tuesday.
Thomas was arrested on Jan. 6. Bail had been set without prejudice, meaning it can be adjusted, at $50,000 in Greenfield District Court. Judge John Agostini in Superior Court on Tuesday ordered the defendant held on $100,000 bail each for 2021 and 2022 indictments.
Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber, who is prosecuting these cases for the state, said Thomas was on probation connected to another case in a separate court when he was arrested on Jan. 6 and found to be in possession of 700 bags of narcotics and at least one scale, indicating he may still be involved in drug trafficking.
Webber also said probation officers could not locate Thomas following the 2021 indictment and asked that bail be set at $100,000 for each indictment Thomas faces to ensure his appearance at future court dates.
Thomas is represented by attorney Jon Heyman, who said probation officers’ inability to locate his client was “a little mystifying” because his residence was listed as his mother’s Springfield home. Heyman said Thomas has ties to the region because he has several children in the Springfield area and he pays child support. He told Agostini his client has a substance abuse problem.
“He has not had a lot of treatment at all in the recent past,” Heyman said.
Thomas was previously charged with trafficking in cocaine (18 grams or more/less than 36 grams), trafficking in heroin/morphine/opium/fentanyl (36 grams or more/less than 100 grams), a subsequent misdemeanor charge of possession with intent to distribute a Class E drug, a firearm violation with three prior violent or drug crimes, three counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, assault and battery on a disabled person over age 60, and possession of a large-capacity firearm.
These charges stem from a July 2021 incident in which a fight ensued after Wesley Johnson, a man who allowed Thomas to essentially squat on his Main Road property in Gill, demanded Thomas leave due to suspicion of selling drugs. Thomas reportedly then punched Johnson in the face. Johnson allegedly reacted by entering his home, retrieving a gun he was not licensed to own, and firing the weapon at Thomas and Thomas’ girlfriend, both of whom fled and barricaded themselves inside a nearby cabin. Johnson then allegedly fired into the cabin door.
Webber explained a police investigation into the incident revealed what State Police called a “drug manufacturing mill” in that cabin, with cocaine, fentanyl, pills and scales.
Thomas is due back in court at 2 p.m. on June 29 for pretrial hearings regarding these two cases.
Johnson has since been charged with armed assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without an FID card and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building. He has pleaded not guilty.
Reach Domenic Poli at: email@example.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.