Informants to stay secret in Surry man’s coke case

ELLSWORTH — A Superior Court justice has denied a Surry man’s motion to reveal the names of confidential informants used by drug agents to obtain search warrants that led to his March 31 arrest on a cocaine trafficking charge.

Mark Briggs, 54, was arrested on an aggravated drug trafficking charge by agents of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) after they allegedly found nearly a half-pound of cocaine in the trunk of his car during an Easter Sunday stop on Route 1A in Ellsworth. The cocaine is valued at $17,000.

Agents then executed a search warrant at Briggs’ home on the Morgan Bay Road, where they reportedly seized 11 grams of cocaine packaged for sale and $10,000 cash.

On May 20, Briggs, through his attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, filed a motion in Hancock County Superior Court to get prosecutors to release the names of two MDEA informants whose statements were used to obtain search warrants used in the case. Tzovarras claimed Briggs could have been “set up” by one or both of the informants and it is impossible to defend his client or assess the validity of the searches conducted by police without knowing the sources of the information.

In considering the motion, Justice Ann Murray said she had to balance the state’s interest in protecting police informants with the defendant’s right to prepare a proper defense.

Briggs did not “affirmatively state that he was set up,” nor did he make any suggestion that someone had access to his car trunk without his knowledge, Murray wrote in her June 28 decision.

If Briggs’ mere assertion that he was “set up” were enough to outweigh the state’s interest in protecting the flow of information then every person accused of trafficking in drugs could claim they are entitled to learn the identity of informants during the discovery process that precedes a trial, she concluded.

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Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander