AUGUSTA — A South China man is accused in a plot to smuggle drugs to Waldo County jail inmates by secreting them in a courthouse bathroom.

Thomas Nichols, 50, was arrested late Thursday night at his home on charges of aggravated unlawful furnishing of Subutex (burenorphine) and violation of conditions of release. He was taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

The complaint filed at the Capital Judicial Center says the offenses occurred June 25 in South China when Nichols was free on pre-conviction bail and when he previously had been convicted of aggravated trafficking or furnishing drugs in Knox County in 1996.

Nichols made an initial appearance Friday in court via video from jail, and a judge set bail at $10,000 cash with conditions prohibiting him from use and possession of illegal drugs and from leaving the state. The judge imposed an 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew and ordered Nichols to participate in electronic monitoring while on bail.

An affidavit by Walter Corey, a special agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, seeking an arrest warrant for Nichols lays out the investigator’s view.

It says that Nichols had been released on bail from Knox County courts on Aug. 23, 2017, but it does not mention the charge. It also says he was granted bail by Lincoln County courts on Nov. 29, 2017, again without mentioning the charge.

Corey said another MDEA agent learned that “Steven Galati was going to attempt to take contraband into the Two Bridges Jail after he made a court appearance in the Waldo County Superior Court on June 25, 2018.”

Galati, 49, of Searsport, had been arrested March 18 in Waldo County by officers with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency on charges of aggravated trafficking in heroin, the Lincoln County News reported at the time.

Corey wrote that Galati had tried to use a main-floor bathroom in the Belfast courthouse on June 25, which was something prohibited.

That same day, a duct-taped package was found in the men’s bathroom on the main floor, and Corey said he opened it and found four suboxone strips and nine Subutex pills. The prescription drugs are used to treat opioid addiction.

Later, Corey said he learned that several people at Two Bridges Regional Jail had been charged with trafficking in prison contraband during the week of June 10 and that one inmate in particular was suspected of getting it into the facility.

Corey said phone calls Arbour made from the jail indicated that another person was supposed to place the drugs in the bathroom.

That man told Corey that he had obtained the pills from Nichols that morning and that Nichols was wearing a GPS monitoring unit on his ankle at the time.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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