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Cell phone was key piece of evidence against convicted Hampton drug dealer

Union Leader Correspondent

January 30. 2014 9:19PM
Cindy Sheppard, of Hampton, was sentenced Monday in Rockingham County Superior Court on a variety of drug charges. A warrant unsealed by a judge indicates a cell phone belonging to an alleged bank robber gave police key evidence against Sheppard. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD — Hampton police had been investigating convicted drug dealer Cindy Sheppard for nearly three years before getting a key piece of evidence in April: a cell phone belonging to a woman who allegedly carried out three Seacoast bank robberies with her boyfriend.

The cell phone had text messages between Sheppard, 48, and Danielle Reader, about various drug transactions, court records show.

Reader is facing charges in U.S. District Court for allegedly carrying out three bank robberies in Hampton and Seabrook along with her boyfriend, Jason Pratt.

The relationship between Sheppard and Reader was detailed for the first time in a search warrant affidavit unsealed by Rockingham Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling. The search warrant spells out what led to Hampton police making a case against Sheppard, who was sentenced on Monday to 3 to 6 years in prison for dealing a variety of drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin. Sheppard, 48, is now awaiting trial on more drug charges alleging that she provided fentanyl to 19-year-old Darriean Hess, who struck and killed two Massachusetts women on Sept. 21 with a friend’s car. Pamela Wells, 60, and Elise Bouchard, 52, both of Massachusetts, were killed while riding their bikes in the Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century Ride.

Hess is charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide for causing their deaths.

Hampton police got their break with Sheppard while investigating Reader and Pratt, who were suspected of dealing drugs at the time, according to the warrant.

When a sheriff’s deputy served Reader with an eviction notice on April 15, he spotted drug paraphernalia in the apartment, court records say. Reader was also seen frequenting Sheppard’s apartment while it was under surveillance by Hampton police, court documents say.

Reader and Pratt were eventually arrested by police for robbing two Hampton banks and a third one in Seabrook between March 22 to April 3, according to indictments.

Reader’s mother contacted police and handed over her daughter’s cell phone, saying she believed it “would contain evidence of the sale of controlled drugs in Hampton,” the warrant says.

Police found a series of text messages from Reader to Sheppard about dealing drugs, records say.

One message dated March 26 from Reader to Sheppard says, “Hey, I just got a call from a guy who wants a lot. I’ve been trying to get his business for a long time. Can you help me? I know it’s late but worth it.”On April 1, another text from Reader to Sheppard said, “Hey Cindy, do you have any benzos. Also he is gonna be here in a few mins (sic) so I’ll be over then… oh and one more thing, that bag you have jay was small.” By the end of May, Hampton police also observed two other people with criminal records for drug use around or near Sheppard’s apartment. They also learned from a Salem police detective that Sheppard had agreed to sell a drug to a confidential informant back in February, but the deal never materialized, court records say.

Hampton police used all of that information to apply for a search warrant, which resulted in seizing a variety of drugs from Sheppard’s apartment, including crack cocaine, heroin and cocaine. After she was arrested, Sheppard was freed on bail and allegedly went back to selling drugs.

Crime Hampton

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