Three members of the Dartmouth Class of 2005 — Steven DeMarco, Eric Testan and Sheanon Summers — reached plea agreements with New Hampshire state attorneys last month, admitting guilt to a variety of drug possession charges.
As part of the plea, the state dropped the most serious charges leveled against DeMarco, including selling and possessing cocaine. DeMarco pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to misdemeanor possession of the painkiller oxycodone, anabolic steroids and marijuana.
DeMarco, of Salem, N.H., received a total of 60 days in jail to be served starting this summer, two years probation, 100 hours of community service and $1,500 in fines. If DeMarco is not a model citizen for the next year, he will be thrown into prison for another six months in what is called a suspended sentence.
Testan, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., admitted to a drug possession charge Dec. 14 and served three days in the Grafton County jail in December as part of a six-month suspended sentence. As part of the plea, the conviction did not specify the drug Testan possessed, but the indictment was for cocaine possession.
Summers, of Abbotstown, Pa., pleaded guilty Dec. 9 to two counts of misdemeanor drug possession, receiving 25 hours of community service and $1,000 in fines as punishment but no jail time. As with Testan, the conviction did not detail what drugs Summers possessed, but he was originally indicted on marijuana and steroid possession.
DeMarco, who plans to return to school as soon as possible, told The Dartmouth that he is “just glad it’s over.”
“I can’t be too happy with an outcome like that, but I just wanted everything resolved,” DeMarco said.
Nancy Gray, the county attorney who prosecuted the three students, said she was pleased with the outcome of the case and called the punishments “appropriate.” She praised Testan and Summers for seeking drug treatment on their own initiative.
Still, the lead policeman investigating the case, Hanover Police Captain Frank Moran, called DeMarco’s sentence “relatively lenient.”
“If it’s true that DeMarco was the man on campus for drugs, he got a very lenient deal,” Moran said.
The case stemmed from a car accident on April 22, 2004, that led to the discovery of 15 grams of rock-form cocaine after a Hanover police stakeout that could have been culled from scripts of “Law and Order.”
Testan was involved in a two-car accident on West Wheelock Street, after which he dropped off a plastic baggie containing cocaine, an UpScale GramTech 120 scale and six empty plastic sandwich baggies behind a trashcan near 17 West Wheelock Street.
Police spotted the cocaine and set up a surveillance operation to wait to see who would come to retrieve it. Testan reportedly drove into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity parking lot and waited before making a run for the drugs, after which he was apprehended by police.
Five days later, with his lawyer, Testan named the source of the cocaine with which he was arrested as Steve DeMarco. Testan detailed to police how he set up the deal over a BlitzMail message that he had since deleted, asking DeMarco, “What time can my friend play eight ball?” He said he bought two “eight balls” — slang for three-and-a-half grams of cocaine — from DeMarco for $650 at DeMarco’s 52 1/2 Lebanon Street residence. Police searched DeMarco’s house on April 30, where they found the drugs that DeMarco admitted to possessing.
Testan went on to make damning statements to police, calling DeMarco “the man” on campus for drugs and a primary source of cocaine and marijuana. He told police DeMarco was “rarely out of illicit drugs.”
When asked if he was the man on campus for drugs, DeMarco flatly denied it. “Of course not,” he said.
DeMarco said Testan was obviously dealing cocaine himself on the night of the accident, given the scale and plastic baggies, and accused Moran and the Hanover police of ineptitude. DeMarco pointed out that Testan himself admitted to selling marijuana and therefore should not have been considered such a reliable source. DeMarco said Testan rushed to give up DeMarco’s name because Testan would have faced a cocaine distribution charge had he not cooperated with police. DeMarco also alleged that Testan was one of the “biggest bookies on campus.”
On the night Testan claimed to buy cocaine at 52 1/2 Lebanon, DeMarco said he was with two friends from home who were returning a Nintendo Game Cube system to him.
DeMarco’s attorney, Steve Shadallah of Salem, N.H., tried to use inconsistencies in Testan’s police statements to void the search warrant before accepting the plea bargain.
The defense argued that Testan lied to the police in order to minimize his punishment. In the motion to suppress the search warrant, Shadallah noted that the police never found the BlitzMail messages Testan claimed were used to set up the deal, only uncovering messages from DeMarco asking for Adderall. Also, during the time Testan said DeMarco was supplying him with cocaine and other drugs, DeMarco was on an off-term.
Finally, Testan was caught with twice the amount of cocaine than the two “eight balls” he claimed to have purchased from DeMarco. Testan was in possession of 15 grams of cocaine, or approximately four “eight balls.”
Gray conceded that there was credence to Shadallah’s motion, but insisted that she “would have won it.” While she said the motion was part of the calculus of the plea bargain without a cocaine conviction, it was not the only reason.
“The plea arraignment depended on the evidence,” Gray said. “The strength of certain evidence was stronger than others.”
The state submitted a list of witnesses who would have been called against DeMarco had the case gone to trial. The list included a number of current and former students who were questioned by police in connection to the case.
In the end, DeMarco only admitted to possession of seven tablets of oxycodone without proper documentation, roughly six grams of liquid form anabolic steroids and a small amount of marijuana. DeMarco contended that the oxycodone was prescribed to him for a knee injury.
Testan has already withdrawn from the College, participated in a drug rehab program and plans to graduate at another university, according to court documents. Given that Testan caused a police investigation of the campus drug scene, his return to campus would certainly be difficult socially.
“I don’t have any ill will toward him and don’t wish any harm on him, but I’d rather not see him again,” DeMarco said of Testan. He added that Testan’s father is an administrative judge, and that may have contributed to Testan’s lighter sentence.
DeMarco, who is currently under College discipline, faces a judicial hearing in February. Summers is still enrolled, according to the Dartmouth Name Directory.
April Thompson, the acting head of judicial affairs, said that the College typically launches its own investigation after the court process concludes, even though she could not comment on the specific case.
The convictions of three former football players do not bode well for Dartmouth football, coming on the heels of Dean of Admissions Karl Furstenberg’s comments that football culture is “antithetical” to Dartmouth academics.
“I want to apologize to the Dartmouth football program for having to be associated with this incident,” DeMarco said.
He noted that not one football player has tested positive for steroid use in the four years he has been at Dartmouth.
According to court documents, Testan first met DeMarco as a freshman on the football team, and from there their relationship developed such that DeMarco was Testan’s on-campus source for his heavy drug habit. Testan told police that he bought acid, mushrooms, cocaine and large amounts of pot from DeMarco and used so many drugs that “he was high all the time.”
The three also were connected through their membership in Theta Delt.
Neither DeMarco, who was a safety, nor Summers, a tight end, became starters or important backups on the team.
Testan, formerly a wide receiver, left the team his freshman year due to injury. Summers, who was still on the team at the time of the indictments, is no longer on the roster.
Athletics Director Josie Harper did not return calls placed by The Dartmouth.