Judge denies lower bail for 2 in alleged drug syndicate

  • The Franklin County Justice Center in Greenfield STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/14/2022 5:00:14 PM
Modified: 1/14/2022 4:59:21 PM

GREENFIELD — Two of the 12 people arrested last month in connection with an alleged cocaine trafficking syndicate were denied their requests for lower bail on Friday.

Jason Nadeau, 40, of Ludlow, and Nathan Ortiz, 38, of Greenfield, had previously pleaded not guilty in Greenfield District Court to trafficking in cocaine over 200 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Nadeau was ordered held on $300,000 cash bail or $500,000 surety, while Ortiz’s bail was set at $100,000. The cases have since been transferred to Franklin County Superior Court due to their severity.

Judge Michael Callan presided over Friday’s proceedings and denied the petitions, citing the perceived likelihood the defendants would not return to court when scheduled.

In making a case for his client’s bail being reduced to $5,000 cash, defense attorney Daniel Kelly said Nadeau was a “supplier, not a leader” of the drug trafficking organization and was allegedly found to have 3.7 kilos of cocaine in his garage. He also said he planned to make a similar petition in Palmer District Court in Hampden County, where his client also faces charges.

Kelly said Nadeau was previously a roofer, but required back surgery and now walks with a cane after falling off a roof 11 months ago. The attorney also said his client contracted COVID-19 inside the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, where he and Ortiz are held on bail. Kelly said this has made communication difficult, “but he doesn’t seem to be wearing it well.”

Chief Trial Counsel Jeremy Bucci, who is prosecuting these cases for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, agreed with Kelly on the facts of the case but argued that Nadeau has previously defaulted on probation and broke a Springfield Police officer’s neck by driving a car at him while trying to evade police capture. Bucci also said Nadeau had stored $300,000 worth of cocaine in his garage.

Attorney Tyler Ingraham, representing Ortiz, also asked Callan to reduce his client’s bail to $5,000, with a GPS monitoring device and a curfew. He said his client has lived in Greenfield since moving from Paterson, New Jersey, when he was 4 years old. He said Ortiz’s children are “the ultimate tie” to the community and a reason to return to court.

But Bucci argued that Ortiz had 28 grams of cocaine seized and was responsible for trafficking roughly 100 grams of cocaine each day. He also said Ortiz has “more than a dozen appearance defaults.”

According to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, Nadeau and Ortiz were arrested along with 10 others following a seven-month investigation into an alleged syndicate investigators believe distributed between 100 and 200 grams of cocaine on a daily basis throughout Franklin and Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin region. The investigation involved more than a dozen law enforcement organizations. The investigation culminated on Dec. 14, when members of the Northwestern District Anti-Crime Task Force executed several search warrants and seized the alleged criminal organization’s stash of cocaine as well as other evidence.

Also arrested

Also arrested were brothers Brandon Rice, of Hatfield, and Daniel Rice, of West Springfield, who are the alleged leaders of the trafficking organization. Daniel Rice owned and operated Dapper Dan’s Barbershop on Chapman Street in Greenfield, a location the DA’s office believes to be part of the alleged operation. Google now lists the barbershop as being permanently closed.

Each brother pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking in cocaine over 200 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Both were ordered held on $500,000 cash bail. The investigation worked to uncover the alleged syndicate’s members, methods of daily distribution, quantities of cocaine and locations of operation, according to the DA’s office.

Police recovered more than a kilogram of cocaine at David Caplice’s Greenfield residence. He pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking in cocaine over 200 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, and was ordered held on $300,000 cash bail. Police allege these 5 kilograms of suspected cocaine represent both the source of supply for Brandon and Daniel Rice’s cocaine trafficking organization and their local stash of cocaine intended for distribution throughout Franklin and Hampshire counties.

As a result of the other evidence gathered, Jason Byrd, of Greenfield, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to violate the drug laws and was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. Wayne Rockwood, of Greenfield, pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking cocaine over 18 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. He was ordered held on $3,500 cash bail.

Heather Symanski, of Greenfield, pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking in cocaine over 18 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. She was ordered held on $3,000 cash bail. Robert Blake, of Greenfield, pleaded not guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the drug laws, and was ordered held on $3,000 cash bail. Rebekah Thompson, of Charlemont, pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking in cocaine over 18 grams and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, and was released on personal recognizance. David Gallegos, 28, Jaimilee Bontempi, 29, both from Deerfield, and Damek Ryan, of Montague, each pleaded not guilty to single counts of conspiracy to violate the drug laws. Each was released on personal recognizance.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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