LOWELL -- Former Westford Selectman Christopher Romeo was placed on probation for a year and ordered to undergo a substance evaluation after a judge found him guilty Friday of possession of heroin.
After a jury-waived trial, Lowell District Court Judge Daniel Crane found Romeo, 51, of 1 Betty Lane, Westford, guilty of possession of a Class A drug.
Crane sentenced Romeo, an attorney, to one year of probation, with a substance-abuse evaluation and treatment if necessary, and no alcohol.
But Romeo, who continues to deny the drugs found in his truck last December were his, describes his arrest and conviction as "a gross miscarriage of justice.''
Romeo was stopped by Tewksbury police on Dec. 30, for erratic operation. In a search of his truck, police said they found a pipe and small baggie of heroin.
Then there was Romeo's dramatic weight loss, sometimes an indication of drug use. Romeo says he has proof he underwent weight-loss surgery in August 2012, losing 137 pounds, 20 of which he said were lost due to the case.
To prove he isn't a drug user, Romeo said he had an independent drug test done within 24 hours of his arrest and the results were negative for heroin and marijuana.
Romeo is adamant the drugs were left behind by a client, Joshua Brand, 21, who has a criminal history of robbery and drug charges. Romeo initially refused to name the client, citing attorney-client privilege, until Brand approached Romeo after learning of the charges against his attorney.
As a result, Brand, who is homeless, agreed to allow Romeo to videotape Brand's admission that the heroin in Romeo's truck was his. The videotape was not entered into evidence at Romeo's trial.
Brand also signed an affidavit on Jan. 2 making those admissions in writing, which was submitted to the judge durings Romeo's trial.
In his affidavit, Brand writes that on Dec. 30, Romeo, his attorney, picked up Brand to give him a ride to Brand's mother's house in Lowell.
"When I got into his motor vehicle I was carrying what was left of some of the heroin I had purchased. I did not want to continue holding that last quantity of heroin and I slipped it into the console of the truck when he (Romeo) was not looking. It (the heroin) was in a small Altoid box," Brand wrote.
Romeo told The Sun, "If I am guilty of anything, it's of just helping him (Brand) get into rehab and detox.''
It is unlikely Brand will testify for Romeo because he has a warrant for his arrest, so coming forward would mean he would be arrested, Romeo said.
"Regrettably, I'm taking the rap for his crime,'' Romeo said. "It is very clear I do not have a drug problem and I will clear my name.''
Romeo said he is weighing whether to file a motion for a new trial or just put the incident behind him.