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Ex-criminal defense attorney arrested for selling meth to police informant in Manchester

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 16. 2018 1:50PM
Paul J. Bennett 



A police effort to address a plague of crystal methamphetamine use in Merrimack has resulted in an early arrest — former criminal defense lawyer and convicted meth dealer Paul Bennett.

Bennett was arrested Thursday after allegedly selling a gram of methamphetamine to a confidential informant at the TownePlace Suites Hotel on Huse Road in Manchester, said Hillsborough County Sheriff Lt. Brian Newcombe. He was also charged with a second sale: another gram a day earlier in the Pinardville area of Goffstown.

A subsequent search of 10 Warren Ave. in Goffstown led to the discovery of three grams of the highly addictive drug, Newcombe said.

“I think he has access to it,” Newcombe said. “For him, he’s still in the game. Certainly, I don’t think he’s Pablo Escobar,” referring to the Colombian drug lord of the 1990s.

Newcombe said the arrest is part of an effort by the Hillsborough County Sheriff Street Crime Task Force to address an upsurge of methamphetamine in the town of Merrimack.

Last week, Merrimack Police Chief Denise Roy asked town officials to fund a special drug unit. She said the bedroom community has become known as “meth heaven.”

“We are becoming that town that we never wanted to be,” Roy said. “What you see on TV, it is here — it is in Merrimack.”

She pointed to Merrimack hotels, where arrests have taken place involving large amounts of methamphetamine.

Newcombe said the investigation began with an arrest at a Merrimack hotel. Police developed an informant, and the investigation eventually led to Bennett.

Bennett was a criminal defense attorney before becoming wrapped up in the world of methamphetamine use and sales.

He lost his license to practice law for two years in 2014, and last Oct. 31 he pleaded guilty to meth sales and operating his former home at 47 Linden St. in Manchester as a drug house.

When he pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to a year in the Valley Street jail. Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson recommended Bennett for the jail’s drug-treatment program. The SATCO program provides two months of classroom training to inmates and then releases them after setting them up with housing, employment and medical help.

At the time of the sentencing, Abramson told Bennett he was young enough at 55 to shape his future if he could get his addiction behind him.

No one was available at the jail late Monday afternoon to speak about Bennett’s participation in the program.

Bennett was also given a deferred prison sentence of two to four years, a sentence that required him to stay out of trouble. Bennett is being held on $250,000 cash-only bail.

mhayward@unionleader.com


Crime Merrimack


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