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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Friday, December 2, 2016

Michael DePalma of New Hampshire Sentenced To 72 Months For Conspiracy To Distribute Bath Salts Obtained From China

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Michael DePalma, 57, of Plainfield, New Hampshire was sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to distribute alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (“a-PVP”), a synthetic drug commonly referred to as “bath salts.” DePalma was convicted of conspiring with Louis Turcio, 52, of Springfield, Vermont, Andrew Darling, 52, of North Walpole, New Hampshire, Michael Kline, 44, of Chester, Vermont, and Christine Spaulding, 37, of Bellows Falls, Vermont, to distribute a-PVP from March 2014 through June 2015. Chief United States District Judge Christina Reiss sentenced DePalma to 72 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Judge Reiss previously sentenced Turcio to 72 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release; Darling to 53 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release; Kline to 36 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release; and Spaulding to 24 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release. In a related a-PVP conspiracy, Chief Judge Reiss sentenced Jesse Emerson of Springfield to 55 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release, and Eugenia Emerson of Bellows Falls, Vermont to 49 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release.

According to court records, in 2011 DePalma located an on-line source for bath salts in China. Over the course of the conspiracy, DePalma and his co-conspirators imported kilogram quantities of a-PVP from China for distribution in Springfield, Vermont and neighboring areas. Among the evidence establishing the bath salts conspiracy, during the execution of a search warrant at Turcio’s Springfield residence in March 2015, law enforcement recovered $2,000 in currency, drug paraphernalia, and several handguns, two of which had serial numbers removed. Law enforcement also encountered Kline in a room with a pistol on the dresser. On April 14, 2015, law enforcement intercepted a package of a-PVP en route from China to Vermont, and conducted a controlled delivery of the package at the Springfield, Vermont Post Office. Turcio arrived at the post office to retrieve the package and was intercepted by federal agents. Also on April 14, 2015, Darling was arrested after the Springfield Police Department conducted a stop as Darling was driving DePalma’s car. At that time, law enforcement seized a quantity of bath salts and a 9mm pistol between the driver’s seat and the console. DePalma admitted to law enforcement that he possessed a 9mm handgun that he had received in trade for bath salts.

United States Attorney Eric Miller commended the collaborative efforts of the agencies involved in this investigation, which included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Springfield, Vermont Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the New Hampshire Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, the Plainfield, New Hampshire Police Department.

The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Doyle. DePalma was represented by Jordana Levine, Esq., Darling was represented by Lisa B. Shelkrot, Esq., Turcio was represented by Frank J. Twarog, Esq., Kline was represented by Mark D. Oettinger, Esq., and Christine Spaulding was represented by Jason Sawyer, Esq.

Drug Trafficking
Updated December 2, 2016