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Deputy arrested on drug charges

Middlesex sheriff suspends sergeant

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / May 4, 2011

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WOBURN — During his arrest Monday on drug-trafficking charges, Middlesex Deputy Sheriff Sergeant Michael Dell’Isola told police that “he did a stupid thing’’ and was only trying to help a friend when he allegedly agreed to buy cocaine from an undercover state trooper, according to court records.

State Police said they arrested the 28-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department after he accepted 28 grams of cocaine in a coffee cup and $500 cash from the undercover trooper at a Starbucks Coffee shop on Commerce Way in Woburn, according to a State Police report in court records.

The investigation was sparked by an anonymous tip last month. The Sheriff Department’s internal affairs unit also conducted an investigation and forwarded its findings to State Police.

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said in a statement Monday that the arrest was part of an effort to clean up his department.

“Upon being appointed sheriff, I promised to restore public confidence in this proud and historic department,’’ he said. “The arrest of Sergeant Michael Dell’Isola is a direct result of this commitment. If these allegations are true, the actions of one officer should not taint the good work performed each day by the dedicated men and women of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.’’

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. issued a statement following the arrest, saying: “This defendant is alleged to have accepted illegal narcotics and money from an undercover state trooper this afternoon, in violation of the public trust placed in all employees who engage in the care, custody, and control of prisoners.’’

Dell’Isola, 51, of Somerville, told troopers that his arrest would lead to his divorce for doing something stupid to make some money, according to the police report. The report also stated that the suspect said, “This is what he gets for helping a friend.’’

Dell’Isola was arraigned yesterday in Woburn District Court on charges of cocaine trafficking and pleaded not guilty. His wife attended, and they left the courthouse by a back door.

State troopers assigned to the Middlesex district attorney’s office led the investigation, utilizing the undercover trooper to make contact with the suspect. The trooper and Dell’Isola spoke several times in the past week, and Dell’Isola allegedly told the trooper, whom he believed to be a drug supplier, that he was looking to obtain cocaine, the police report said. In a later conversation, Dell’Isola placed an order for cocaine and indicated that he was to receive a large sum of cash from the supplier.

Last Friday, the two spoke again, and Dell’Isola indicated that he would take the cocaine in either rock or powder form. The two then arranged to meet Monday. They met at the coffee shop, and the undercover trooper handed Dell’Isola a coffee cup that allegedly contained 28 grams of powder cocaine and $500, the report said.

Before Dell’Isola left the shop, he agreed to contact the undercover trooper for “future needs,’’ prosecutors said. He was arrested after leaving the shop, and troopers seized the cocaine and money, prosecutors said.

Dell’Isola remained free yesterday on $1,000 cash bail he posted after his arrest Monday afternoon. Dell’Isola was suspended with pay from his job at the Cambridge jail, pending the outcome of the case. He is due back in court June 8 for a probable cause hearing. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Mark E. Mulligan, a Stoneham attorney who represented Dell’Isola at arraignment, did not respond to requests for comment.

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.