WESTFIELD, Mass. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS) – Although police officers may get discouraged by what may seem to be a ‘catch and release’ policy regarding drug offenders, when they are delivered to the Commonwealth’s courts, they are buoyed by the periodic successes they encounter such as a recent verdict in Hampden Superior Court which sent an habitual city drug offender to state prison.
Mark A. Nikiel, 40, is a heroin addict who has supported his habit by selling heroin to other users, Det. Sgt. Stephen K. Dickinson said recently after Nikiel was sentenced to a three years and a day term by Judge Mary-Lou Rup.
Dickinson has long maintained that commercial heroin dealers do not operate in the city and supplies of heroin largely are brought into the city, in relatively small batches, by users who travel to Holyoke or Springfield to buy, not only drugs for themselves, but a surplus to sell to other city addicts.
Nikiel, Dickinson said, “is the typical Westfield junkie trying to support his own habit by selling to other users.” He said that addicts “have to get the money somewhere” and some support their habits by stealing.
He cited an addict who supports his habit by “selling his father’s stuff” at a pawn shop where “his father keeps buying the stuff back.” Dickinson said that he once asked the man why he didn’t tell the pawn shop staff to stop buying stolen property from his son, and the man said if he did that he wouldn’t know where to go to buy the property back, if his son had to sell it elsewhere.
Nikiel, Dickinson said, “is one who’s been selling drugs to support his own habit for years.” A check of his criminal history reveals about 65 offenses which have sent him to jail on at least six occasions. Nikiel apparently first went to jail in July of 1999 when he was sentenced to an 18-month term for selling marijuana.
By April of 2000, he had been released and he was sentenced to a two-year term for selling heroin. He also served time twice for possession of heroin and also was sentenced (in separate cases) for possession of oxycodone and for illegal possession of two prescription drugs.
Despite his previous incarcerations, Dickinson said, Nikiel’s latest conviction will be a little different for him. Most recently, when city detective executed a warrant at his 8 Conner Ave. home in Dec. of 2012, Nikiel was found to be in possession of 213 bags of heroin.
Arraigned in Westfield District Court, charges there were dismissed after he was indicted in Hampden Superior Court. There, Dickinson said, Nikeil spurned a plea offer and chose to stand trial.
In a bench trail last week before Rup, he was sentenced to a three year and a day term, with credit for time served. Nikiel, who has been held since his arrest almost two years ago, will have to serve about a year but this time he will not serve his sentence in county jail – he’ll go to state prison. “This is the first time he’s going to the pen,” Dickinson said, “He’s never done state time before.”
He said that, in a way, prison is good for addicts. “It’s good for them because they get clean. Maybe I’ve extending his life by three or four years,” Dickinson said.