Man gets 2½ years on drug charges

The Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton. 

The Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 05-31-2024 11:13 AM

Modified: 06-10-2024 1:43 PM


NORTHAMPTON — After weighing recommendations from defense and prosecuting attorneys, a Hampshire Superior Court judge sentenced a longtime Northampton man to 2½ years in jail on numerous drug distribution charges at a change-of-plea hearing Wednesday.

Before passing sentence on Travis Albano, Judge John Agostini heard the argument for a five-year prison term from Assistant District Attorney Matthew Russo and defense attorney Arlynn Henderson’s request for a term of probation.

Reciting the facts of the case the prosecution would have tried to prove at trial, Russo said the FBI and the Northwestern district attorney’s office began a joint investigation into a suspected methamphetamine distribution ring in March 2022.

Authorities gained information from Albano’s phone conversations with an associate while he was incarcerated at the Franklin County Jail on separate charges, Russo said, in which the two discussed shipments of drugs, money, and how to ensure Albano would have access to both when he was released.

The associate, Casey Howard of Leeds, was arrested Dec. 14, 2022, driving a U-Haul containing quantities of drugs including fentanyl, methamphetamine and LSD, numerous other pills, a pill press, cutting agents and dyes — all indications of an elaborate drug distribution operation, Russo said.

Howard, who also pleaded guilty to the charges he was facing, was sentenced in February to 3½ to 4 years in prison.

Albano faced similar charges — two counts of possession with intent to sell class A drugs (fentanyl and ketamine), three counts of possession with intent to sell class B drugs (LSD, amphetamine and methamphetamine), five counts of possession with intent to sell class E drugs, all subsequent offenses, and three counts of conspiracy to violate drug law.

Under the unagreed plea deal, Albano pleaded guilty to all charges, with the commonwealth’s concession that all be filed as first, not subsequent, offenses.

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Russo told Agostini a prison term seemed appropriate for Albano not only because of prior drug convictions but because he was trying to run his illicit business from a jail cell.

Henderson told the judge Albano, 42, was taking responsibility for his actions.

“He’s turned over a new leaf,” he said.

He said his client has struggled with addiction since becoming dependent on oxycodone in college. Albano took responsibility for his sobriety in jail and has been serious about treatment and recovery since his release, he said.

Albano also is in therapy for mental health problems and has been confronting some serious setbacks in his physical health, his attorney said.

“He’s motivated,” Henderson said, asking Agostini to impose a sentence of probation. “We’re asking for an opportunity to continue the good work.”

Agostini said Albano was an unusual defendant — college graduate, magna cum laude, supportive family — but he also said his record showed “one failure after another.”

“I don’t see him as a candidate for state prison,” he said.

He sentenced Albano to the jail term on one of the class B charges and a concurrent sentence on one of the conspiracy charges. He was given no credit for time served.

On the other counts, he sentenced Albano to three years’ probation, to begin following his release from jail.

Editor’s note: This story was changed on June 10, 2024, to reflect the fact that Travis Albano was a Northampton resident during the commission of his crimes.