BURLINGTON — A convicted drug-dealing felon from Springfield, who is facing a federal charge of illegal possession of a firearm, won’t be getting out of prison to go home or to a residential drug treatment program.
David E. LaPlante, 59, wanted a chance to enroll in Valley Vista, a drug rehabilitation center in Bradford, or seek other treatment outside of prison, according to Chief Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels.
Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy, after hearing concerns from the prosecution and the Federal Probation Office, ruled Tuesday that LaPlante should stay behind bars pending trial in U.S. District Court.
Desautels told the court Tuesday his client has struggled for many years with health conditions and only a few drugs are effective. Desautels said his client would return to his Springfield home and would have strong support from his wife.
He said a plan to go to Valley Vista got short-circuited when the facility reported that as of Dec. 7 it would not accept patients that are actively using methadone. The new policy will allow only suboxone to be given to clients there, Desautels said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Van de Graaf said he thought it would be bad for the community for LaPlante to be released and that his wife had told the government she had concerns about his return home. The defendant also has no job, the prosecutor noted.
Van de Graaf said there was a feeling LaPlante was out of control and has had issues over the past 18 months. He said he agreed with the assessment of the Federal Probation Office that reported LaPlante was not a good candidate for release.
Desautels acknowledged his client was facing a serious charge, but said he had been told the handgun his client is charged with possessing was a former service revolver used by the defendant’s father when he was a police officer.
Conroy said his notes from an earlier detention hearing indicated the gun was loaded and Van de Graaf added it was in the nightstand next to the defendant’s bed. Conroy said he was concerned by LaPlante’s legal problems increasing in recent years. LaPlante is on state supervision in Vermont and Massachusetts, court records show.
A federal grand jury indicted LaPlante after drugs and .357 caliber revolver were found at his home at 2 Crescent St. during a visit by Springfield Police and Vermont Probation and Parole officers on Oct. 16, records show.
LaPlante has a 2018 felony conviction for heroin trafficking in Windsor County and as a felon is unable to possess a firearm, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.
Springfield Police had received several earlier complaints from the community about ongoing drug activity at the Crescent Street residence, the ATF said.
Springfield Acting Cpl. Jeremy Fitzgibbons, who was aware LaPlante was on state supervision, joined probation officers for a home visit inspection, the ATF said in court papers.
Fitzgibbons spotted drug paraphernalia commonly associated with heroin and bath salt use in a second floor bedroom, court records show. A probation officer then found the Smith and Wesson .357 caliber revolver in a bedside stand drawer, the ATF said.