$140,000 drug brick found in $15 software

July 01, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

In an extraordinary mix-up, a customer who bought a $15 computer software package from a Worcester County store got more than he bargained for -- more than 2 pounds of cocaine.

Authorities are wondering whether someone expecting cocaine got some highly overpriced computer software instead.

The purchase was made by Art Baltrotsky, a 33-year-old free-lance photographer whose work appears in The Sun and elsewhere.

When Baltrotsky opened the software box, he noted the typical components -- from the book of directions to small packages of computer disks. But Baltrotsky said he also saw a large, square object wrapped in clear and white cellophane.

"I unraveled the first part, then the second part," said Baltrotsky, a Berlin resident. "I thought to myself, 'I've never seen CDs wrapped like this.' "

Soon, Baltrotsky was staring at white powder. He immediately called authorities and delivered the tightly wrapped brick of cocaine to the Worcester County Sheriff's Office.

Police estimated the 1,138 grams of recovered cocaine to be worth about $140,000.

"Well, this is not an everyday occurrence, that's for sure," said Worcester Sheriff Chuck Martin. "Somebody out there is very unhappy that he's lost his package, no doubt. I can imagine going home with what I imagined was a kilo of cocaine and finding a computer program instead. Isn't it unreal?"

On Saturday afternoon, Baltrotsky said, he made his usual trip to OEM Resale store, an unclaimed freight wholesaler north of Berlin, where he shops for MacIntosh computer items. He was intending to pick up fans for his computer.

On this visit, the manager offered Baltrotsky a clip-art program that had been sitting on his shelf for three weeks.

"The funny thing," Baltrotsky said, "is that I didn't really want this. But I bought it anyway.

"This was pretty darn weird," Baltrotsky said. "I filled out the reports and gave them [the authorities] all the goods."

Police said the cocaine probably was added to the box during shipping, not at the factory or the computer store.

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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