NEWBURYPORT — A Merrimac man accused of selling heroin to local police officers and others inside Cashman Park, the city’s Rail Trail and other high-profile locations last year has pleaded guilty in Newburyport District Court and was sentenced to a year in jail.
Thomas Dastous, 30, 56 East Main St., No. 2, Merrimac, and his girlfriend Katie Sullivan, 27, same address, were arrested last October by Newburyport police in Merrimac and charged with heroin distribution, heroin possession, conspiracy to violate the drug law and selling drugs near a school or park.
Dastous pleaded guilty to two counts of heroin distribution, while charges of heroin possession, conspiracy to violate the drug law and selling drugs near a school or park were all dismissed as part of his plea deal with prosecutors. He was also fined $90 and given credit for two days already served.
Sullivan pleaded guilty on Dec. 18, to a reduced charge of heroin distribution, the original charge was heroin distribution (subsequent offense), and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The arrests were the culmination of a months-long investigation that saw police pose as heroin buyers while other officers watched transaction between the two and other known heroin dealers.
In August, an undercover Newburyport police officer arranged to purchase heroin from Dastous and Sullivan, who had already established a reputation as go-to people for heroin. The first of what turned out to be two heroin buys took place on Aug. 16 inside Cashman Park. A Newburyport police officer wearing plainclothes met the suspects and bought a gram of heroin. A second buy was conducted by the same officer on Sept. 3, this time at a Merrimac Dunkin Donuts. This time the officer purchased a 0.6 gram of heroin, according to court records.
In between the two buys, police observed Dastous and Sullivan meet up with a well-known heroin user on the rail trail near Cashman Park. Police then followed them to the CVS Pharmacy parking lot on Pond Street, where the addict was spotted in their car slumped over. After the user sobered up enough to leave the car, he entered the pharmacy. Dastous and Sullivan then left in the car. The next day, Dastous and Sullivan were spotted with the same heroin user, this time accompanied by his girlfriend, who was also known by police as a frequent heroin user, according to police.
Dastous and Sullivan’s arrest, along with the arrest of other known heroin dealers, was one of the factors that lead Mayor Donna Holaday to organize a public meeting in November on the rise of heroin use within the city called, “A Critical Conversation on Heroin Abuse in Newburyport.” The forum, which attracted Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett; Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr.; City Marshal Thomas Howard; and officials from Newburyport District Court, was held the day before Holaday was re-elected mayor.