Wednesday August 15, 2012

LENOX -- Two women are facing felony charges in connection with an alleged drug-dealing operation at the Price Chopper supermarket in Lenox, where one of the women was employed.

Tammie J. Lee, 51, of West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield, an employee at the store on Pittsfield Road (Routes 7 & 20) and Johanna L. Bartlett, 36, of Swamp Road, Rich mond, were arrested Saturday afternoon outside the store following an alleged drug transaction in the employees lounge, police said.

The investigation was prompted by tips from employees and long-term surveillance by the supermarket's Loss Prevention department into alleged drug activity in the store.

The arrests by Officer John Willey, who handled the investigation for the police, followed the alleged drug sale during Lee's work break. Oxycodone pills worth $463 were confiscated.

Both suspects were released on personal recognizance Saturday afternoon pending their arraignment, scheduled for Thursday in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington.

Lee faces felony counts of possession to distribute an opiod, oxycodone, as well as amphetamines. According to state sentencing guidelines, the maximum penalty, upon conviction, could total 2 1/2 years to 10 years in prison.

Bartlett will answer to a misdemeanor count of possessing oxycodone pills. The maximum penalty, if convicted, could be up to one year in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine.

Abuse of prescription-drug opiods such as oxycontin, oxycodone and similar addictive pain-killing substances has been rampant in Berkshire County during the past several years, reflecting a national pattern, according to Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless and Dr. Jennifer Michaels, medical director of the Brien Center, a major treatment facility in Pittsfield.

Both have participated in a number of public forums throughout the county to call the public's attention to an epidemic of opiod abuse.

Oxycodone, a narcotic, is widely prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain.

To reach Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto