Judge against police search of suspect — (Bangor Daily News)

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Bangor Daily News (ME)

November 19, 1999

Author: Debra Sund Of the NEWS Staff; BANGOR DAILY NEWS (BANGOR, MAINE)

[]A convicted felon suspected of having a cache of weapons on his Stockholm farm will not be subject to searches by police, according to a District Court judge’s ruling Thursday.

Andrew Gerakaris, 47, also known as Nick A. McLeod, is charged with possession of a weapon by a felon. He appeared in Maine District Court in Caribou before Judge Ronald Daigle.

Gerakaris also faces five unrelated counts connected to an alleged domestic abuse incident involving his pregnant girlfriend and her daughter at the Stockholm residence.

He has pleaded innocent to all charges. A trial has been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 23. He is free on bail pending the trial.

In a separate ruling, the judge decided that Gerakaris may return to live in a log structure on the farm’s Main Street property in Stockholm, but separate from the primary residence where his girlfriend lives.

Gerakaris, whose testimony during a federal trial in Massachusetts put a congressman in jail in 1993, was dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt during his initial appearance.

More than a dozen firearms were seized by police after a search of the Gerakaris property last month. As part of the investigation, officials are looking into an alleged relationship between Gerakaris and Aroostook County Sheriff Ted St. Pierre.

The sheriff has been on sick leave since the allegations arose.

The case is being handled by the state Attorney General’s Office. District Attorney Neale Adams represented the state during Thursday’s proceeding.

During the hearing, Adams attempted to add a bail condition to the felony weapons possession charge that would have allowed police to search Gerakaris’ property for guns. Adams likened the condition to one allowing search and testing of a suspected drug trafficker.

The defendant’s attorney, Richard Currier of Presque Isle, claimed that such “random searches” would violate Gerakaris’ constitutional rights.

Currier claimed that his client has never been found with weapons.

“He’s never found to be in possession of firearms,” Currier said.

Although witnesses interviewed by police claimed to have linked Gerakaris with weapons, Currier said that the proposed bail condition would allow police to “harass” his client. Currier cited an incident last week in which police arrived unannounced and searched the Stockholm residence, claiming that Gerakaris was there.

He was not found at the residence, Currier said.

Adams countered that during the alleged domestic abuse incident, Gerakaris’ girlfriend called an Ashland man to take a gun from the house, so police would not find it.

In rendering his decision, Judge Daigle said that he couldn’t “equate” drug search and testing principle with Adams’ firearms argument.

Although the judge said that Gerakaris should not have contact with his girlfriend, Susan Gerakaris, the judge ruled that the defendant could live in a log house on the farm property.

Susan Gerakaris, who lives in the farm’s primary residence with the couple’s son and her daughter, is not legally married to the defendant, but took his last name.

Susan Gerakaris testified that she has been living with the defendant for about four years. After the alleged domestic abuse incident, which included the defendant allegedly breaking a car window and hitting Susan Gerakaris’s daughter with a drawer, the woman said she chose not to pursue an order of protection from abuse.

“I didn’t feel I’d be honest if I got one,” Susan Gerakaris said on the witness stand.

The woman said that Andrew Gerakaris had taken more prescribed drugs, such as Prozac, than he should have the night of the alleged abuse.  As a result, his behavior changed, she said.

Susan Gerakaris testified that it was difficult to manage the farm’s buildings and other property, including six adult dogs and five puppies without his help.

She said she felt no threat from the defendant.

“I don’t feel any threat at all, that’s why I’m asking for it,” she said, asking that Andrew Gerakaris be allowed to return.

Susan Gerakaris also testified that she and Andrew Gerakaris were in counseling and hoped to reconcile.

Later, Andrew Gerakaris took the stand and testified that when he takes more than the prescribed amount of his drugs, “my whole personality changes.”

He later said that he is the primary caregiver for his 18-month-old son and not being able to be with the child was “breaking” his heart.

Andrew Gerakaris said that he “never had a crime of violence on my record.”

“I would never hit a woman or a child,” he said.

Although the judge ruled that contact between the couple could influence Susan Gerakaris as a potential witness in the weapons and domestic abuse charges, he decided that Andrew Gerarkaris could live in the log cabin.

In the early 1990s, Gerakaris testified against his former father-in-law, Nicholas Mavroules, a former congressman. That testimony resulted in Mavroules spending a year in jail on corruption charges.

Gerakaris, who was a probation officer in Massachusetts, spent seven months in jail in 1990 for soliciting gifts from people having business before the courts. As a result of the conviction, he is prohibited from owning firearms.

He also is under investigation in that state for allegedly fraudulently receiving worker’s compensation payments from Massachusetts. As a probation officer, he claimed he was injured when he slipped and fell on courthouse steps in that state.