- Essex District Attorney’s Office
Media Contact for Middleton Inmates Charged with Drug Conspiracy
Carrie Kimball Monahan, Director of Communications
Middleton, Massachusetts — An Essex County Sheriff’s Department investigation has uncovered a drug smuggling operation in which four people have been charged and seized contraband with a jail value of $20,000.
John Leger, 32, and Juan Peguero (a/k/a Jose Rodriguez), 36, were arraigned in Salem District Court today on a charge of conspiracy to violate drug laws for allegedly colluding to smuggle Suboxone strips into the Middleton House of Correction. Mr. Leger is in custody awaiting trial on animal cruelty and gun charges and Mr. Peguero is in custody awaiting trial on a murder charge. [Mr. Peguero has multiple aliases and is accused of stabbing Juan Guzman Tapia in Lawrence on Nov. 23, 2010.]
Essex Assistant District Attorney Lyndsey Legier requested $25,000 bail on each defendant, revocation of bail in the open cases and orders to stay away and have no contact with the co-conspirators. Judge Matthew Machera granted ADA Legier’s request in regard to Mr. Peguero. He imposed $10,000 bail on Mr. Leger and revoked his bail in the open Superior Court cases. This case is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on January 29, 2018.
Melissa Digaetano, 30, of Peabody, and Lea Peguero, 28, of Lawrence, were arraigned yesterday and released on personal recognizance. Ms. Digaetano is charged with possession of class B, possession of class B with intent to distribute, delivering drugs to a prisoner and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Ms. Peguero is charged with delivering drugs to a prisoner and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
The Commonwealth alleges that Mr. Peguero prepared papers with hidden pockets and sent them to his cousin, Ms. Peguero. On his instruction, Ms. Peguero obtained approximately 89 Suboxone strips and placed them in the hidden pockets. She provided these papers, now disguised as legal documents, to Ms. Digaetano, who brought them to a court appearance of her boyfriend, Mr. Leger, at Salem District Court on August 30. The papers were confiscated by Salem Police and the Essex County Sheriff’s Investigative Unit.
“We have a zero tolerance policy on the possession or introduction of contraband into any of our facilities,” said Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger. “Contraband such as this endangers the lives of not only our inmate population but also our correctional staff. We will remain vigilant in our enforcement efforts and will aggressively prosecute any and all offenders.”
The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.