GREAT BARRINGTON -- A 22-year-old Sheffield man on Monday denied charges that he was armed as he sold drugs in Great Barrington while home on weekends from college.
Daniel B. Lowenstein pleaded not guilty to four felony counts involving firearms -- including a sawed-off shotgun -- four misdemeanor charges relating to the sale and use of marijuana, and one count of negligent operation of a motor vehicle at his arraignment in Southern Berkshire District Court.
District Court Judge Robert F. Gordon released Lowenstein after his parents posted $10,000 cash bail. Lowenstein is due back in court on April 11.
Meanwhile, Lowenstein, an off-campus student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and two roommates could face drug charges for growing and possibly selling marijuana from their Amherst apartment. Police there on Saturday night executed a search warrant and found 22 mature marijuna plants, 24 marijuana seedlings, $2,000 cash and drug paraphanalia, according to Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh. Walsh didn't identify the roommates, who are also from South County, because they haven't been formally charged.
The local drug and weapons charges stem from a two-month joint investigation by town police and the Berkshire County Drug Task Force. According to court documents, local authorities were told in January by a confidential informant that Lowenstein came home on weekends to sell marijuana out of his car. Through the informant, police conducted controlled buys of marijuana from Lowenstein on three consecutive Saturdays: Feb. 23, March 2 and March 9.
All three alleged drug deals occurred in the parking lot of the Barrington Plaza in Stockbridge, the last of which resulted in Lowenstein's arrest.
Following a search of Lowenstein and his 2002 Honda Civic, police supposedly found $1,200 in cash, several small containers of marijuana valued at $600, and two digital scales with drug residue. In addition, authorities say they seized a sawed-off shotgun with the serial number defaced, two-dozen .12-gauge shotgun shells, and a pellet gun pistol.
Lowenstein was originally held on $10,000 bail, pending Monday's arraignment, which the judge upheld.
Assistant District Attorney Mary-Elizabeth Mack asked Gordon to maintain the high bail "given the serious charges, especially the possession of a shotgun."
Lowenstein's defense attorney, Judith Knight of Great Barrington, felt the bail was excessive, in part, because "there is some issue whether [the shotgun] can be tied to the defendant."
Knight also argued that her client, a graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, wasn't a flight risk given he has two college semesters left before graduation.
"He's a brilliant young man doing well at UMass," she said.
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