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School employee's pot plot up in smoke

Date: 2/28/2012

Feb. 27, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — The Wilbraham Police Department arrested 57-year-old town resident and Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District employee Alan Levinson on drug charges in his home on Feb. 22.

"To my understanding, Mr. Levinson was a paraprofessional at Soule Road Elementary School," Police Chief Roger Tucker told Reminder Publications.

Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee Chair Scott Chapman, speaking on behalf of Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea, confirmed that Levinson was an employee in the district, but declined any further comment because it is an ongoing legal matter.

However, minutes from the Sept. 12, 2006 School Committee meeting show that Levinson was appointed as a paraprofessional in the district effective Aug. 28, 2006.

Wilbraham Police, as well as agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Levinson's home at 7 Karen Drive following an investigation by officer Shawn Baldwin.

Upon searching the residence, officers found and seized 84 marijuana plants in various stages of growth as well as cultivation equipment.

"It's a medium sized operation. By comparison, a large-scale opertion would be like the one they found in Springfield where they had several hundred plants and it looked as if they were attempting to expand," Tucker said. "But it's still a significant amount of plants."

While Tucker would not go into the specifics of Baldwin's investigation, he said usually it is based upon "the controlled purchase of narcotics" by an officer and reported observations from citizens.

Tucker also added that oftentimes looking at the volume of electricity usage is part of the investigation.

"This can be a dangerous thing," Tucker said. "Sometimes the cultivator will look to bypass the meter by tapping into the main electrical source and that is extremely dangerous."

Levinson was charged with possession of marijuana over one ounce, cultivating or possessing a Class D substance with intent to distribute, as well as school zone and park zone violations.

"Mr. Levinson's property abuts Fountain Park and is within 1,000 feet of Soule Road School, which is required to charge him with the school zone violation," Tucker said.

Levinson denied all charges at his arraignment in Palmer District Court.

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