Police Log

Johnston Sun Rise ·

Town man faces federal drug trafficking, money laundering charges

A Johnston man accused of trafficking oxycodone and marijuana and laundering the profits has made an initial appearance in federal court.

Juan G. Catala, 41, faces one count each of distribution of oxycodone, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and money laundering, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. He appeared in U.S. District Court on July 7 and was released on $10,000 unsecured bond with electronic monitoring.

According to prosecutors, an individual working with law enforcement made at lease four oxycodone purchases from Catala between January and March of this year. Those transactions – each involving between 39 and 87 tablets – are said to have been electronically monitored by police. Payment was largely made in the form of direct cash deposits to an account set up by Catala, Neronha’s office said.

Federal authorities on July 6 executed a search warrant at Catala’s residence, and prosecutors say that action resulted in the seizure of 70 pounds of marijuana, more than $10,000 in cash, and several empty oxycodone bottles.

Another $1,500 in cash is said to have been seized from Catala’s vehicle.

Bank robbery suspect held

A Providence man who authorities allege robbed and set fire to a North Providence bank has been taken into custody.

Joseph W. Lavoie, 49, is charged with one count each of bank robbery and use of fire to commit a federal felony, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. He was ordered held on July 7.

Prosecutors allege Lavoie entered the Citizens Bank branch in North Providence shortly before 10 a.m. on July 6, telephoned the FBI, and “threatened to rob and burn down a bank.” He is then alleged to have jumped over the counter and told a teller, “This is a robbery.”

“It is alleged that Lavoie opened the cash drawer and began removing cash which he then stuffed inside his sweatshirt. It is alleged that during the robbery, Lavoie grabbed, assaulted and threatened a female teller, and then ignited several items inside the bank,” a statement from Neronha’s office reads.

North Providence Police Department patrol units arrived at the scene while the robbery was in progress, and observed people exiting the bank as black smoke filled the building. Lavoie was located inside the bank and detained.

Conn. woman charged with DUI

A Connecticut woman has been charged with driving under the influence following a traffic stop in town.

Michelle Gervais, 23, of 205 Cemetary Road in Plainfield, Conn., is charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (first offense, blood alcohol level unknown). She was also issued a violation for refusal to submit to a chemical test.

According to the narrative report of Patrolman Joseph Anderson, emergency personnel responded to the intersection of Hopkins and Winsor avenues at approximately 11:50 p.m. on July 2 for a motor vehicle accident. While speaking with Gervais – who had been operating a red Ford Mustang with Connecticut plates that was involved in the crash – the patrolman reports she displayed signs of intoxication. He also writes that he “detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from her breath.”

Anderson reports Gervais acknowledged consuming alcoholic beverages that evening but “would not elaborate any further.” She is then said to have consented to field sobriety testing, which the patrolman reports she failed.

At that point, Anderson reports Gervais was placed under arrest and transported to Johnston police headquarters, where she reportedly refused a chemical breath test. She was later released with a Third District Court summons on the previously listed charges, as well as for several traffic violations.