SABATTUS — The town is selling a drug dealer's pickup to help buy a new car for the police chief.
Police seized the red 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 last September along with money and $600,000 in plants after raiding a sophisticated indoor marijuana growing operation at 227 Bowdoinham Road.
On May 13, David Bizier, 48, pleaded guilty in Androscoggin County Superior Court to one count of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. He was sentenced to five years in prison with all but seven days suspended, two years of probation and a $5,000 fine, according to a court clerk. Afterward, a judge signed the truck and $3,155 over to the town of Sabattus as forfeited evidence.
Town Manager Andrew Gilmore said Sabattus selectmen decided to sell the truck and put those funds and the cash toward a new vehicle for police Chief Tony Ward.
Selling seized property is pretty common among police departments but "it doesn't happen a lot in Sabattus at all," Gilmore said. And, as it happened, the timing worked out: "We made the conscious decision to go for the cruiser in this budget cycle, not the chief's car, and search for alternate funds."
The truck, with about 165,000 miles on the odometer and a toolbox cap, has sat in the police garage since September. It's expected to go out to a blind auction in two to three weeks with a minimum reserve of at least $12,000; that's still to be determined, Gilmore said. Potential bidders will be allowed to inspect the truck and leave a sealed bid.
Ward will replace an aging Ford Taurus with a Dodge Charger, Ford Interceptor or Chevrolet Caprice at a cost of $43,000 to $49,000 with extras such as partitions and police lights.
The new vehicle won't be purchased until the town finds additional funds.