WOODBURY — Duane N. Johns, 28, of Paulsboro, was found guilty by a jury Thursday of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute when police and a SWAT team entered a Jefferson Street residence on April 4, 2014.
Johns, who did not live at the Jefferson Street residence, was found in a bathroom with a woman, Turquoise M. Paige, 26, of Paulsboro. Five other people also were in the house.
In the toilet of the bathroom where Johns was located were plastic bags of suspected marijuana. Also in the bathroom was a cloth Crown Royal bag containing 17 glass vials of suspected marijuana. Additional bags of marijuana were found in a sewer trap leading from the house. More than 100 unused plastic bags similar to those in the toilet were found on a dining room table.
In addition, cash totaling $558 also was seized and a loaded handgun was found under a seat cushion on the porch.
Johns was initially charged with possession of that weapon while committing a drug crime, but the charge was dismissed before the case went to the jury when it was ruled that Johns was not shown to be in possession of the gun.
However, Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Steven Salvati was still permitted to remind the jury in his closing argument of a narcotics distribution expert’s testimony that the presence of a weapon was typical of drug dealers who want to protect themselves and their product.
Johns did not testify. His lawyer, Wayne Powell, argued that Johns was not proven to be the possessor of the items presented as evidence. “They have left you to your own devices to decide,” Powell said.
Salvati said the drug distribution expert witness testimony about the presence of cash, packaging materials, a weighing scale and the amount of marijuana found in the house showed “everything is consistent with a drug dealer.” The jury considered only Johns. The others in the house “will have their day in court,” he said. Paige awaits trial on drug charges.
Superior Court Judge M. Christine Allen-Jackson set sentencing for July 13. With two prior drug distribution convictions in 2008, Johns is eligible for a prison sentence longer than the maximum five years for today’s conviction.