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Subject of nationwide manhunt for alleged carfentanil possession found guilty in unrelated opioid case

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 17. 2017 11:34PM

PRESTON THORPE 



MANCHESTER — The Manchester man whose alleged possession of carfentanil made him the subject of a nationwide manhunt was convicted earlier this week on an unrelated charge of possessing a synthetic opioid with the intent to distribute.

A Hillsborough County Superior Court judge found Preston Thorpe guilty Wednesday of possessing an ounce of what is known as U47700 in his apartment last Christmas Eve.

He will be sentenced on this charge in October, court officials said.

But Thorpe’s lawyer, Chuck Keefe of Nashua, said he’ll appeal that verdict with a 27-page motion that claims all evidence seized in the department was illegally obtained and should have been thrown out at trial.

“The police illegally entered his apartment, illegally remained in his apartment, and illegally expanded the scope of their investigation,” Keefe said.

At trial, a state prosecutor described how Thorpe came to be arrested.

“Police entered the apartment and eventually saw a brown powder residue on the kitchen counter,” Assistant Attorney General Danielle Horgan said. “They also saw two spatulas and a potato masher with a brown powder residue. In a drawer in the kitchen, police saw a zip-lock bag with a large quantity of a brown powdery substance.”

But Keefe maintains the Manchester police officers had no cause to seize that evidence because they were called to the department on an unrelated allegation of domestic abuse involving Ashley Arbogast, 29, who is the daughter of Laura Frost, the woman who called in the complaint to Manchester Police.

Arbogast is Thorpe’s girlfriend and Manchester police said Frost told officials Thorpe had broken Arbogast’s arm during a fight earlier that day.

While officers spoke with Thorpe at the door to his apartment, Keefe’s motion points out Manchester police notes on the case observed that Thorpe had scars and scabbing on his face, which the report said was indicative of drug use.

According to Keefe’s motion, Thorpe said he would bring his girlfriend to the door to speak with officers.

“The defendant then attempted to close the door, but an officer put his foot in the door preventing this,” Keefe’s motion states. “Then, without consent, the officers entered the apartment.”

According to Keefe’s appeal, Abogast told police she had fallen three days before Thorpe’s arrest and doctors at Elliot Hospital said her arm was broken in three places.

In Thorpe’s appeal to the state Supreme Court, Keefe maintains Manchester police boot-strapped a drug case onto what had simply been a domestic call.

“Here, the officers did not have anything approaching probable cause when they entered the defendant’s apartment without a warrant, consent, or any other exception to the warrant requirement,” Keefe wrote in his appeal.

Assistant AG Horgan said during the trial Manchester police followed protocol and the seizure of all evidence in the case was legal. She could not be reached for further comment Thursday.

Thorpe was accused in the spring of possessing the powerful drug carfentanil. He has pleaded not guilty in that case and reportedly it is going to go to a grand jury where Thorpe will be indicted.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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