For Immediate Release - August 03, 2010

Mailman Pleads Not Guilty To Drug Charges

Stephen Hale, 30, of 107 Washington Street, Gloucester, a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, pleaded not guilty today in Gloucester District Court to drug charges for allegedly attempting to deliver OxyContin to a customer on his mail route.

Hale, who is on unpaid administrative leave from his job, is charged with attempt to commit a crime, to wit, distribution of OxyContin, possession of Class B suboxone, and larceny under $250. Judge Ellen Flatley maintained the $5,000 bail Hale had posted shortly after his arrest, and continued his case until September 10 for a pre-trial hearing.

The charges were brought after police served a search warrant at the residence of Donald Purington, 30, of 8 Brightside Avenue, #1, Gloucester, who was found to be in possession of OxyContin after allegedly forging a prescription. Purington told police he regularly purchased the drug from Hale.

When confronted by investigators, Hale was found to be in possession of a small amount of suboxone. In addition, he is charged with opening a piece of mail on his route and taking the $10 bill from inside of it.

The investigation was conducted by the Gloucester Police, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and United State Postal Inspectors.

Purington and his girlfriend, Anita Steele, 26, of the same address, were arraigned yesterday in Gloucester District Court on charges of obtaining a drug by fraud, uttering a false prescription, possession of Class B with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate the drug law. Bail was set at $2,000 cash on Purington, and $1,000 cash on Steele. Both defendants return to court on August 6 for pre-trial conferences.

A fourth defendant, Amber Emery, 20, of 107 Washington Street, Gloucester, who is Hale's girlfriend, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment yesterday to a charge of larceny over $250. She allegedly stole $2,000 worth of jewelry from a friend and pawned it. She was released on personal recognizance and returns to court on September 21 for a pre-trial hearing. The jewelry was recovered by Gloucester Police.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate Hartigan represented the Commonwealth at today's arraignment of Hale. He was not represented by an attorney today's arraignment, but indicated he will retain counsel.