Man arrested in drug raid argues: ‘I had no drugs’

Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)
Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)

Three men arrested as part of a drug bust on Third Street Wednesday night were held in county jail after their arraignments in Riverhead Town Court Thursday morning.

While two of the men faced felony charges for drug possession, the third — a Coram man charged with a misdemeanor for loitering — protested his arrest.

“No drugs were found on me,” said Maurice Pittman, 36, a parolee who was released last month after  previously being convicted of attempted drug sales. “I had no drugs. I sold no drugs.”

He was still held in custody to face his parole officers.

The East End Drug Task Force raid came in the wake of a rash of crimes downtown over the past week. In total, five people were arrested, according to a Riverhead police news release.

Police said “numerous neighborhood complaints about illegal narcotic activity” had been filed, resulting in the investigation and the recovery of heroin, crack and MDMA — also known as ecstasy — which were taken yesterday around 4:45 p.m.

Shirley resident Jeffrey Pittman, 44, was charged with two felonies for drug possession as well as a misdemeanor charge of loitering and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation.

Mr. Pittman, who was represented by local attorney Susan Menu, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to the charges before Judge Richard Ehlers. Since Mr. Pittman has two prior felony convictions, he was held without bail, county prosecutor Sean Buckley said.

Mr. Pittman waived his right to a speedy grand jury indictment at the encouragement of his attorney.

“That’s what I suggest you do and that’s what your lady says,” Ms. Menu said, pointing to a woman in the otherwise empty courtroom. That woman nodded, and Mr. Pittman agreed, knowing he’d be held in jail either way.

“I don’t got a choice,” he said.

Rasheed Manuel, 22, of Mastic also faced two felony charges for drug possession. He was additionally charged with a misdemeanor for drug possession and loitering.

Mr. Manuel did not enter a plea since he was not represented by an attorney. He was held on $100,000 bail pending another court appearance Friday.

Two other individuals arrested in the raid were also charged with loitering: Flanders resident Tesheara Fields, 22, and Bridgehampton resident Brandon Williams, 27. Mr. Williams also faces a violation for marijuana possession.

Both were released from custody with a future court date.

Maurice Pittman, Jeffrey’s cousin, was also arraigned Thursday morning. He said the police were “violating [his] rights” by arresting him with the other individuals.

“I can’t control what other people are doing,” he said to Judge Ehlers.

Mr. Buckley, the prosecutor, noted that Mr. Pittman has a long criminal history, with four felony and four misdemeanor convictions, as well as a revocation of his parole and one instance when he failed to show up to court.

Mr. Buckley said an investigation into Mr. Pittman may lead to “further charges,” though he did not go into more specifics.

Bail for Mr. Pittman was set at $1,000. He was taken to be arrested on a parole warrant, police said.

A woman in the courtroom, whom Mr. Pittman identified as his girlfriend, said the man was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

She also claimed the misdemeanor loitering charges were filed to make the drug investigation seem important.

“It’s supposed to be some big task force thing and the best they got is loitering?” she said. “They get two guys with drugs and they take a small thing and turn it into a big bust.”

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