BRENTWOOD — A Manchester man was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison Monday for playing a key role in a drug trafficking operation that state prosecutors have said involved the largest amount of fentanyl they’ve seen to date.
“I just want to acknowledge the seriousness of this offense. … I just ask for mercy so I can get home to my kids,” Trevor Phillips told Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling before she handed down her sentence that she hopes will send a strong message to other drug dealers.
Phillips pleaded guilty in December to a charge of conspiracy to sell a controlled drug.
He was one of three people arrested last year after the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force conducted an undercover operation with a confidential informant.
Prosecutors say Phillips had a “leading role” in the conspiracy to bring approximately 1,236 grams — or more than 2.7 pounds — of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.
“To the state’s knowledge, there has never before been a state case involving that weight of fentanyl; even among federal cases that weight is not common. This case is magnitudes beyond the case of a street level dealer who sells a gram or two at a time; it is even magnitudes beyond the case of a mid-level dealer who sells a few fingers at a time to a street-level dealer. The weight involved in this conspiracy would be over 123 fingers — this is the amount that would be supplied to a higher-level dealer who would likely redistribute it to various mid-level dealers,” the Attorney General’s office wrote in its sentencing memorandum.
Margaret Herrmann, 33, of Londonderry, was sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison for her role last week. She is a former special education assistant who worked at Londonderry Middle School, but was not employed by the district at the time of the drug bust.
Joseph Grasso, 37, formerly of Milford, has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell a controlled drug. The state plans to seek 13 to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 23.
While Phillips has struggled with substance abuse in the past, Senior Assistant Attorney General Danielle Sakowski said it’s not an excuse.
“This was a profit-driven enterprise,” she said.
Public defender Matt McNicoll sought a 3 ½- to 10-year sentence, saying Phillips was accepting responsibility for his actions.
But Judge Wageling agreed with the state’s request for 10 to 20 years, although she did give Phillips the opportunity to get his sentence reduced to 8 to 16 years if he gets accepted into a treatment program and successfully completes it while in prison.
Wageling stressed the seriousness of the case and her frustration with dealers who are making money off a drug that’s killing people every day.
She said the amount of fentanyl in this case was the most she’s seen in her more than 10 years on the bench.
“I haven’t seen anything even come close to the amount that you were all trafficking in and apparently able to do so at a moment’s notice,” she said.