Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force arrests two on heroin charges

Roan W. Elgart (left) and Luke Depriest, faced heroin charges at their arraignment Friday in Edgartown District Court.
Photo by Steve Myrick

Roan W. Elgart (left) and Luke Depriest, faced heroin charges at their arraignment Friday in Edgartown District Court.

Two Martha’s Vineyard men were arraigned on heroin charges Friday in Edgartown District Court, following the seizure on Thursday, March 14, from a West Tisbury house of 14 grams of heroin, illegal prescription narcotics, and cash. Police made the arrests acting on a search warrant.

At his arraignment Friday, the court entered not guilty pleas for Roan W. Elgart, 37, of West Tisbury on charges of possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of prescription narcotics, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

The court entered not guilty pleas for Luke T. Depriest, 33, of Oak Bluffs, on charges of being present where heroin is kept, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

The Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force, assisted by Chief Dan Rossi and members of the West Tisbury Police, raided the house at 67 Skiff Lane on Thursday.

According to Cape and Islands assistant district attorney Laura Marshard, after police entered the house, Mr. Elgart tried to flee, but police subdued him after a brief struggle. They found 14 grams of heroin in his pockets. They also seized a small amount of marijuana, illegal prescription narcotics, and $1,300 in cash.

Ms. Marshard cited a long criminal record for Mr. Elgart, including jail sentences served, violations of probation, and defaulted court appearances, as she argued for $20,000 cash bail.

“I count in excess of 15 violations of probation and 13 defaults,” Ms. Marshard said. Mr. Elgart has criminal convictions on Martha’s Vineyard, in Boston, and in Brookline dating back more than a decade.

Defense attorney Rob Moriarty also addressed Mr. Elgart’s criminal record in his argument for $1,000 bail.

“This is the record of a drug addict,” Mr. Moriarty said. “It’s a vicious and uncompromising addiction. He needs medical care. He was able to speak with me, and he understands what’s going on, but he’s very sick.”

Edgartown District Court Presiding Justice H. Gregory Williams set bail at $15,000, and ordered Mr. Elgart back to court on March 22. As of Wednesday he remained in custody at the Dukes County jail.

Ms. Marshard asked that Mr. Depriest be taken into custody on a probation violation. He is on pre-trail probation in a separate 2012 case, in which he is charged with dealing prescription narcotics.

Ms. Searle argued for Mr. Depriest’s release pending a probation hearing next week. She said that police did not find any drugs on or near him during the raid.

According to an affidavit offered in court, police found a burnt spoon with brown residue and a makeshift tourniquet, items commonly used by heroin addicts who inject the drug, near Mr. Depriest.

On the probation violation, Judge Williams ordered Mr. Depriest released until the probation hearing, but ordered him to continue drug screening with the probation department.

Ms. Marshard and defense attorney Ryan Searle agreed on a recommendation of $500 bail for Mr. Depriest on the current drug charges, which Judge Williams accepted. He was later released on bail.

Drug task force investigators targeted both men in their investigation and say they believe both play a part in a large scale heroin operation in which narcotics are smuggled onto the Island and sold, primarily in Edgartown.