Judge reduces bail for fentanyl suspect Alex Carlson

Alex Carlson waits for court to begin on Friday morning. – Stacey Rupolo

After Alex Carlson was arrested on Oct. 16 by the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force for possession of 103 grams of suspected fentanyl, the largest fentanyl haul in task force history, with a street value of approximately $21,000, he was held at Dukes County jail on $100,000 cash bail.

The bail amount set by Clerk Magistrate Liza Williamson was the result of Mr. Carlson’s two prior convictions for possession with intent to distribute heroin and the substantial jail time he served as a result.

In “Reasonings for Ordering Bail,” Ms. Williamson wrote that the amount of fentanyl was equivalent to 600 “hits,” and that the sale of such a high number of fentanyl hits “would likely result in a death and a potentially legally viable charge of manslaughter. Because fentanyl is such a life-threatening narcotic, appropriate bail must reflect the actual potential charges.”

Citing Drug Enforcement Agency data that states fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, Ms. Williamson wrote, “The nature and circumstances of the charge are reasonably closer to homicide under [these] circumstances.”

But at Friday’s arraignment, District Court Judge J. Thomas Kirkman lowered Mr. Carlson’s bail to $25,000 after his court-appointed attorney, Robert Moriarty, argued his client was not a flight risk because of close family ties to the Island, and that despite his client’s lengthy criminal record for drug offenses, he has never missed a court date. Mr. Moriarty also stated that Mr. Carlson has limited financial means and that he has been deemed indigent.

Mr. Carlson, who posted bail on Monday, has a GPS locating device attached to his ankle, per an order issued by Judge Kirkman in reducing bail. Mr. Carlson also has a curfew of 7 pm to 7 am.

A pretrial hearing for Mr. Carlson is slated for Nov. 13.

Long investigation

Mr. Carlson’s arrest, as he disembarked from the ferry Nantucket at about 9:15 pm Monday, Oct. 16, came after a five-month investigation by the M.V. Drug Task Force.

“Detective [Michael] Snowden was the lead investigator on this case,” task force member Lt. Chris Dolby wrote in an email to The Times, “and by seizing this much fentanyl before it was distributed throughout the Island, there is no doubt that he and the other [task force] officers prevented a series of overdoses which most likely would have resulted in deaths.”

According to the police report, Mr. Carlson resisted the efforts of officers to take him into custody, and attempted to pull the arresting officers toward the water, apparently attempting to get close enough to the harbor to toss the drugs in.

Child pornography suspect, second fentanyl suspect arraigned

Also last Friday, Judge Gary A. Nickerson presided over the arraignment of Joshua Rogers, 29, of Oak Bluffs, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography.

In May, Oak Bluffs Police assisted State Police detectives with locating and arresting Mr. Rogers. They found him in a conference room on the second floor of the Oak Bluffs Public Library, using his cell phone with headphones, the police report said. Two memory cards in Mr. Rogers’ wallet were seized.

This is the second time Mr. Rogers has faced charges. In August 2013, Mr. Rogers was found guilty of two counts of child pornography, and was sentenced to four years probation with the conditions that he register as a sex offender, submit a DNA sample, wear a GPS monitor, and have no unsupervised contact with children under 14 years old, according to The Times court report.

He is being held at Dukes County jail.

John Hathaway Jr., 48, of Oak Bluffs, pleaded not guilty to four drug-related charges, including trafficking in more than 10 grams of fentanyl. Judge Nickerson ordered his $25,000 bail remain in place at district court. A pretrial hearing will be scheduled for late this year or early next year. Mr. Hathaway’s attorney, Geoffrey Nathan, told Judge Nickerson that Mr. Hathaway has a long history of substance abuse issues and has been an inpatient at a Veteran’s Administration facility for several months.

In March, officers from the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force arrested Mr. Hathaway and charged him with possession of approximately 54 grams of fentanyl, after executing a search warrant at 466A County Road in Oak Bluffs. Officers also seized $4,756 in cash, a digital scale, packaging material, and a cellular phone.



  1. So, let me get this straight, the police conducted a “lengthy investigation” and sought a search warrant before a judge, based upon a showing of “probable cause”, but somehow these same Constitutional considerations do not apply to the actions of Maura Valley and Omar Johnson, the merry band of Board of Health Agents? If applying for a search warrant was required (in order for”evidence” to be admissible) upon the police, then I would like to see the MV Times ask those Defendants why honey is more dangerous than Fentanyl?

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