PERU — Two Rumford men pleaded not guilty to felony drug trafficking charges at arraignments on Friday afternoon in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris.

They were arrested by state police early Thursday evening following a traffic stop on Route 108 and taken to Oxford County Jail in Paris after failing to post $5,000 cash bail each.

Ronald W. Harding, 50, of 133 Rumford Ave., is charged with unlawful trafficking in crack cocaine and violating bail conditions. He was freed Friday on personal recognizance bail, a jail official said early Friday evening.

Pierre Jayshaw Joseph-Calhoun, 24, of 205 Cumberland St., Apt. 4, is charged with aggravated drug trafficking in crack cocaine and a probation violation. He failed to post bail and was remanded back to the jail.

Maine State Police Trooper Jason Wing said the arrests were part of an ongoing investigation by state police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Rumford police.

Wing credited the arrests to the sharing of information between state and Rumford police, the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and the MDEA.

“It was a collective team effort to bring the case to this conclusion,” he said.

“Last night, we had additional information that (Harding and Joseph-Calhoun) were bringing a substantial amount of crack cocaine back from Lewiston,” he said. “They’ve been making near daily trips for the past two weeks to Lewiston.”

Shortly before 6 p.m., Wing and Troopers Sgt. Don Shead, Tom Pappas, Brian Hink, Tom Welch and Adam Fillebrown, with his narcotics-detecting dog, Aros, stopped the pair’s car on Route 108 in Peru. The troopers were joined by Oxford County Deputy Cpl. George Cayer, MDEA Special Agent Tony Milligan and Rumford police Detective Capt. Daniel Garbarini.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Wing said of the heavy police presence. No guns or weapons were found, he said.

After removing Harding and Joseph-Calhoun from the car, Aros went to work searching the car and the men before finding approximately 11 grams of crack on one of the men, Wing said. The drug has a street value of between $1,500 and $1,600.

In the River Valley area, the average price per gram, depending on quality, is $150, he said.

“There is a significant crack cocaine issue in the Rumford area,” Wing said.

After obtaining search warrants, Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter, Sgt. James Bernard, and Cpls. Don Miller and Lawrence Winson, and MDEA Special Agent Chancey Libby searched both men’s residences, but found no drugs or guns, just drug scales, Wing said.

Rumford police Sgt. Doug Maifeld took Harding and Joseph-Calhoun to the Paris jail.

Wing said the charge against Joseph-Calhoun was elevated to aggravated trafficking due to a prior conviction of furnishing crack cocaine.

In February, Joseph-Calhoun was convicted in Androscoggin County Superior Court of unlawful furnishing of a scheduled drug on May 1, 2013. He was sentenced to 18 months with all but 45 days suspended, and placed on probation for two years, according to Sun Journal archives.

Harding was free on $800 unsecured bail after being arrested by Rumford police on April 7 on charges of first offense operating under the influence, and sale and use of drug paraphernalia. He has a court date of June 3 in 11th District Court.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.