Students face drug charges

On the evening of April 19, three Williamstown Police Department (WPD) officers found drugs and drug paraphernalia warranting felony charges in the rooms of Jimi Morales ’11 and Tucker Bair ’12. Morales and Bair have since been suspended from the College for an undetermined period of time and arraigned in the Northern Berkshire District Court in North Adams, Mass.

Morales, age 22, was arraigned last Friday. He was charged with possession of a class D drug, marijuana, with intent to distribute; possession of a class B drug, ecstasy, with intent to distribute; possession of a class B drug, Percocet; and possession of a class B drug, Methylin. All charges constitute misdemeanors except for possession of a class B drug with intent to distribute, which is a felony.

Bair, age 20, was arraigned yesterday. He was charged with possession of a class D drug, marijuana, with intent to distribute; possession of a class D drug, marijuana; possession of a class B drug, ecstasy; possession of a class A drug, LSD; and possession of liquor for a person under 21 years old.

Jean Thorndike, director of Campus Safety and Security, declined to comment, as the issue “is a police matter.”

According to Kyle Johnson, chief of WPD, the police became aware of the matter when they were contacted by Security. “[Security] notified the WPD and then assisted us in a support role,” he said. “Our partnership has been a positive one for a long time.”

Security had discovered the drugs during the annual fire drills. The Security blotter notes that drugs were found in Bair’s room in Carter at 6:55 p.m. and in Morales’ room in Lambert at 8:45 p.m. on Monday, April 19. That same evening, the room checks also revealed bongs in Williams Hall F and Tyler.

Upon receiving notification from Security, WPD proceeded to investigate the two rooms. The North Adams Transcript reported that WPD obtained a search warrant for Morales’ room, while Bair consented to a search. “It was a smooth process,” Johnson said.

The Berkshire County Drug Task Force was not involved in the incident, unlike last year’s raid at Agard, which resulted in the arrest of Max Blackburn  (“Police raid student drug stash in Agard,” Feb. 10, 2009). Johnson said that he was unable to comment on trends in previous incidents involving students from the College, as WPD records do not track arrests by student affiliation.

According to Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs, “neither [Bair nor Morales] is a registered student at this point.” Students on suspensions are not considered registered students. As of yesterday, Bair and Morales had been removed from the directory on the College Web site.
Neither Kolesar nor Dean Merrill would comment further on the discplinary aspect. “The possession or use of illegal drugs makes a student subject to college disciplinary procedures, which are conducted in confidence,” Kolesar said.

Some students have reacted against the manner in which Bair and Morales were treated. “While I appreciate everything the school administration does, Dean Merrill and the rest of the people in charge of making a decision as to their academic career showed utmost callousness,” Adam Capulong ’10 said. According to Capulong, Morales and Tucker were “told to vacate campus property within a few hours” of their meeting with school administrators. “This was extremely inconvenient given that they live out of state but could not leave the state since they were being charged,” he said. Morales is from Houston, Texas, and Bair is from Atlanta, Ga.

Capulong noted that he saw “unprofessional” conduct on the part of both Security and WPD. “There are multiple witnesses at Lambert that can confirm that the Williams College Security officers at the scene were ecstatic to find drugs in his room and have the police invade his life,” he said. “The security officers were labelling Jimi as a criminal as the police were questioning him, alleging him to be the perpetrator of other occurrences on campus. Also, the police did not give Jimi or Tucker a receipt for the items they took from their rooms. They took their cash without counting it and also their prescription medication.”
Additionally, Capulong expressed dissatisfaction with Bair’s and Morales’ suspension. “They were both doing well in their classes, and nothing would indicate that this situation would have affected them,” he said. “Both of them told me that their preference was to remain and finish up the semester.” Both students are currently looking for jobs.

Arjun Narayan ’10, who lives in Lambert, said that he will miss Morales’s presence. “Jimi is a great guy, a friend who was always very helpful, cheerfully cooking, discussing philosophy, actively engaged with helping people out and attending talks and debates on campus,” he said. “I hope that he comes back next fall.”

Sam Jonynas ’12, who lives in Bair’s Carter suite, echoed Narayan’s sentiments. “The group of friends close to Tucker will really miss him,” he said. “They’re both awesome people, and it’s really unfortunate that they’re not here anymore.”
Both Bair and Morales declined to comment.