AUGUSTA — A Connecticut man arrested by Augusta police and indicted on 12 counts of aggravated drug trafficking in August pleaded not guilty Thursday, with his lawyer raising questions about the legitimacy of his client’s arrest.

Specifically, those questions focused on how police linked a suspected drug dealer, known to confidential informants only by his street name, “Country,” to the man they arrested.

James Fulton, 37, of Stamford, Connecticut.

James Fulton, 37, of Stamford, Connecticut, was indicted by a Kennebec County Grand Jury on 12 counts of aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs, all in 2018.

Fulton faces two counts involving fentanyl and two counts involving cocaine base Oct. 30 in Augusta; two counts involving fentanyl and two counts involving cocaine base Nov. 1 in Augusta; and two counts involving heroin and two counts involving cocaine base Nov. 28 in Augusta.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial.

Fulton pleaded not guilty to all 12 of those class A felony charges when he was arraigned Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center.

His lawyer, Matthew Morgan, raised questions about the legitimacy of the police identification of Fulton, which Morgan said relied, in part, on showing a confidential informant a photograph taken from a social media page of a woman police believed to be the suspect’s girlfriend.

That informant had previously only identified the man who sold him drugs on multiple occasions in controlled buys monitored by police by his street name, “Country.”

An affidavit from Detective Benjamin Murtiff of the Augusta Police Department states the informant told police he or she knew a black male from Rochester, New York, who is in his mid-30s, used “Country” as a street name and was selling heroin and cocaine in the Augusta area.

Police set up controlled buys of illegal drugs by the informant, who purchased drugs from the man the informant knew as “Country” at a Boothby Street apartment.

Murtiff wrote that on Dec. 28, he reviewed the social media accounts of a woman the affidavit states police had come to believe was “Country’s significant other,” and found a photograph of her with an unidentified black male. Murtiff showed the photograph to the informant, who indicated it was “Country.”

On Dec. 31 Murtiff showed the same photo, included in a series of photographs of others, to a local man who had been arrested on aggravated drug trafficking charges, who had told police he knew many different drug dealers in the area and he, too, identified the man in the photo as Country.

Murtiff said he was contacted in May by a special agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency who said “Country” and the woman police believed to be his girlfriend were being detained.

The agent sent a photograph of “Country,” whom they had identified from his New York driver’s license, as 37-year-old James Fulton. That photograph of Fulton was later shown to another confidential informant, among a series of photographs, who identified the photo of Fulton as the man he or she knew as “Country.”

Morgan has filed a motion seeking to suppress the photo identifications, stating the identification process police used was suggestive and not reliable. The motion was expected to be heard by the court in October.

Morgan said identification is significant because “this case is based entirely on two confidential informants making (identifications) of Mr. Fulton, well after the alleged crime.”

Morgan is also seeking an email he said was sent between Augusta police and police in Rochester, New York, in which they discussed a drug dealer from Rochester with the street name “Country.” Morgan said the “Country” they discussed may have been a different person than Fulton.

Class A crimes are punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Fulton’s bail has been set at $75,000, and he is being held at the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

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