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More details surface in Northfield meth bust

  • Amanda Warner<br/><br/>(Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)

    Amanda Warner

    (Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)

  • Brian Bateman<br/><br/>(Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)

    Brian Bateman

    (Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)

  • Amanda Warner<br/><br/>(Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)
  • Brian Bateman<br/><br/>(Courtesy of Northfield Police Department)

As a county prosecutor moved yesterday to scale back the charges against half a dozen people arrested last week in a Northfield drug raid, she brought to light potentially incriminating admissions by two of the group’s members that could lay the groundwork for more substantial claims.

Assistant County Attorney Cristina Brooks yesterday amended the charges initially filed against the six, discarding some and altering others from the manufacture of the methamphetamine to conspiracy to do so, an offense that requires the purchase of key ingredients in concert with others. One of the defendants, 23-year-old Anthony Ottati, who allegedly drove others multiple times to buy ingredients, has been acquitted altogether – for now. Brooks said additional charges could be brought against all six, as new information is learned.

Northfield police Sgt. Jennifer Adams testified yesterday in court that two of the suspects, Amanda Warner, 25, and Brian Bateman, 27, said in police interviews that they had directly participated in the operation, be it by purchasing items or cooking the drug in their Elm Street apartment, just feet from a sleeping child and a street’s width from an elementary school and a public library. Adams said Warner told her she had purchased ingredients for the drug, that Bateman and another suspect, Jason Buckley, 36, had cooked it, and that she had personally used the final product.

Adams also said Bateman shared with another officer his “recipe” for cooking meth in empty soda bottles, and said he typically did so in the bathroom of their first-floor apartment, which he shared with Warner and their five-year-old son.

Last Thursday, state and local police officers broke down the door to that apartment and an upstairs unit in the same complex, at 6 Elm St., arresting all six suspects and seizing items they say are typically found in small-scale meth labs – empty packs of pseudoephedrine, stripped-down lithium batteries, freezer packs and Coleman camp fuel. Investigators are awaiting lab results on whether any of the objects contain methamphetamine, Adams said.

In a hearing yesterday in Franklin’s district court, Warner’s attorney, Mark Sisti, described her and another female suspect, 27-year-old Janell Dubreuil, as “a couple of young ladies being used by a few folks.”

“She was a created addict,” he said of Warner.

Brooks challenged the point. “I think making her less of a subject in this matter is totally unfair,” she said, noting that, in purchasing and knowing of the operation, Warner had taken “an active role in the manufacturing.”

According to a police affidavit in the case unsealed this week, officials first learned of the alleged lab through multiple complaints from tenants and visitors to the apartment complex, which is a converted three-story home. One informant described herself as a friend of Dubreuil’s, and said she had grown concerned for the safety of her young relatives who live at the complex. She told an officer she had confronted Dubreuil about the group’s activity, and that Dubreuil had denied cooking meth but admitted to using the drug.

The informant also made note – as did others – of a foul odor often emitting from Dubreuil’s third-floor apartment, which she described as “very bad like things mixed together,” according to the affidavit.

Adams said the police had records of many of the suspects purchasing pseudoephedrine, a common decongestant, at several drugstores in Tilton. She also noted that the windows of the suspects’ two apartments were seen fully open with fans drawing air inside despite temperatures outside nearing zero – a sign, she said, of a potential meth lab.

Adams also testified that Dubreuil spoke with her stepmother yesterday from jail and said, in Adams’s words, “She did what she had to do so she wouldn’t be out robbing people.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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