The Oakland County Sheriff’s Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET), which is a 14-agency task force that includes Royal Oak, arrested the three men at about 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at a house in the 1000 block of East Fourth Street, where one of the suspects lives.
The trio was arraigned Jan. 17 at the 44th District Court in Royal Oak for a variety of charges related to alleged drug sales, cocaine possession and felony firearm possession.
According to Sheriff’s Office Lt. Joe Quisenberry, NET commander, undercover county detectives had been purchasing fewer than 50 grams of heroin hand to hand from suspect Brian Gillette, 27, of Royal Oak, for three months after receiving a tip about drug sales in October 2012.
“An undercover officer purchased heroin hand to hand on three separate occasions and, on the third occasion, we made the bust,” said Quisenberry.
The first two purchases, according to Quisenberry, took place at Gillette’s house on Fourth Street, located four blocks east of the Royal Oak Police Department, and at The Rock on Third, which is almost directly across the street from the police station.
Undercover detectives from the task force learned that Gillette’s supplier would be present at the third meet-up Jan. 14 at Gillette’s house, according to Quisenberry. That’s when Gillette and two others were arrested. The other two men arrested were Eric J.W. Porter, 41, of unknown origins, and Sheldon R. Matthews, 44, of Detroit.
Detectives seized a loaded handgun, heroin and crack cocaine from Matthews, as well as crack from Porter, Quisenberry said. In all, the three men face a combined eight charges in court.
Gillette faces three counts of delivering heroin fewer than 50 grams, Porter faces one count of cocaine possession fewer than 25 grams, and Matthews faces one count of delivering heroin, one count of delivering cocaine — both fewer than 50 grams — and two counts of felony firearm.
Quisenberry said, due to the nature of the drugs, there were no stockpiles at the house, although the drugs seized were valued at a total of about $5,000.
“We’ve been purchasing for three months,” Quisenberry said. “Heroin is not a drug that is kept in high amounts. It’s a street-level drug.”
Each count of possession of fewer than 50 grams with intent to deliver could result in a penalty of up to 20 years in jail, fine of up to $25,000 or both. Each count of possession of fewer than 50 grams without the intent to deliver could result in up to four years in jail, a fine of up to $25,000 or both. The felony firearms charges are punishable by up to five years in prison or a $2,500 fine, or a fine of up to $5,000 for previously convicted felons.
Matthews does not have a prior criminal history, but both Gillette and Porter do, Quisenberry said. Gillette reportedly had a prior out-of-state drug offense and a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Michigan, while Porter reportedly had prior cocaine delivery and weapons charges, as well as a current friend of the court warrant from the 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit, according to Quisenberry.
All three men had a pre-exam conference Jan. 25 in front of district court Judge Derek Meinecke. Gillette’s defense attorney, Craig Daly, and Porter’s defense attorney, Joe Horenstein, did not respond to messages seeking comment by press deadline, but 44th District Court Deputy Court Administrator Lori Maurice said both cases had been bound over to Oakland County Circuit Court.
Defense attorney Arnold Weiner, representing Matthews, said he planned to enter a not-guilty plea for his client.
“I think the facts are going to show that he did not have two guns, but just one gun, and he has a (concealed pistol license) and no prior criminal history,” Weiner said. “The allegation that he was attempting to shuttle the heroin and cocaine is unfounded. Basically, this man was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Maurice said Jan. 28 that Matthews’ case was adjourned until Feb. 22 and currently remains in district court.