Gill man gets 7 to 9 years on drug, gun charges 

  • Rufus Thomas in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rufus Thomas, with his defense attorney Jon Heyman, pleads guilty to all charges in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rufus Thomas, with his defense attorney Jon Heyman, pleads guilty to all charges in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Rufus Thomas enters Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/8/2022 4:39:29 PM

GREENFIELD — A Gill man who pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges on Thursday will spend the next seven to nine years at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, though his sentence will be stayed until Monday so he can see his child at a family event at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction this weekend.

Rufus Thomas, 41, took a plea agreement on seven charges in two separate cases in Franklin County Superior Court and was sentenced by Judge Karen Goodwin. Thomas pleaded guilty to trafficking in cocaine (18 to 36 grams), trafficking in fentanyl (18 to 36 grams), a subsequent offense of possession with intent to distribute a Class E substance, unlicensed possession of ammunition, unlicensed possession of a large-capacity feeding device, a subsequent offense of possession with intent to distribute a Class B substance, and a subsequent offense of possession with intent to distribute a Class A substance.

He was sentenced to seven to nine years for the latter three offenses and for the trafficking charges. He was sentenced to 18 months for the Class E substance charge and to one year for the feeding device charge. All his sentences will be served concurrently, meaning at the same time.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber, who prosecuted the cases for the state, told Goodwin that Thomas has another matter in Hampshire County Superior Court, though Webber expected that case to be resolved with another concurrent sentence on Dec. 9. He explained Thomas’ sentences in Franklin County were the result of compromising with defense attorney Jon Heyman, who said his client will be released while he is still a relatively young man “and ideally is going to turn a corner.”

Goodwin said she felt the sentence was harsh but that she would accept it, even though she is not obligated to do so.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of it going forward,” she said.

The state dropped two charges against Thomas.

The first five charges Thomas pleaded guilty to stem from a July 22, 2021, incident in which a fight ensued after Wesley Johnson, a man who rented a cabin to Thomas on Main Road in Gill for roughly $100 a month, demanded Thomas leave due to suspicion of selling drugs on the two-structure property. 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 the cabin. Johnson then allegedly fired into the cabin door.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty to two counts of armed assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and a single count of possession of a firearm without an FID card. He was released after posting $2,500 bail.

Alfred Chamberland, Johnson’s defense attorney, argued in court in September that his client has dementia and is not competent to stand trial.

In a previous court session, Webber had explained a police investigation into the incident revealed what State Police called a “drug manufacturing mill” in the cabin Thomas rented, with cocaine, fentanyl, pills, money and scales. On Thursday, Webber said Thomas has one prior conviction.

Thomas was on probation on Jan. 6 when he was arrested in Turners Falls and found to be in possession of 700 bags of fentanyl, 11 grams of cocaine and $2,004 in cash.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.


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