Motel drug bust spirals into five arrests on weapons and drug charges

The Enterprise — Anne Hayden

Closed for business: The office at the Western Motel, with a sign on the door asking people to call if they need a room, is locked and empty after the Albany County Sheriff’s Office arrested the manager, Joshua Bojkovic for selling drugs there. Four other arrests were made in connection with the drug sales.

— Photo provided by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office

Cache of drugs: Sheriff Craig Apple says narcotics “are everywhere” and these drugs from a March 31 bust at the Western Motel is evidence. Pictured are marijuana, cocaine, MDMA — commonly known as ecstasy — and hash, as well as cash and weapons.

Joshua Bojkovic

Jack Evans

Thomas H. McLaughlin

Jennifer McLaughlin

James K. Sawyer

GUILDERLAND — A local motel manager was arrested 10 days ago, after a months-long investigation, for, police say, selling drugs out of the motel’s office.

Joshua Bojkovic, 27, the manager and a tenant of the Western Motel, at 2019 Western Ave., was arrested by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office on March 31, along with four others.

Sheriff’s investigators arrested James K. Sawyer, 23, of Robin Ann Lane in Westerlo; Thomas H. and Jennifer McLaughlin, both 39, of 1205 Hillside Drive in Watervliet; and Jack A. Evans, 19, of 508 Orchard St. in Delmar.

Sawyer was operating with Bojkovic out of the motel office, police say. 

Sheriff Craig Apple said his office received a tip from an informant about suspicious activity occurring at the motel, a run-down building located directly behind the Western Diner. 

Over the course of three months, investigators watched the motel for signs of drug activity, and had an undercover informant make several controlled drug purchases.

“We did some surveillance in the area and there was a lot of traffic going on,” Apple told The Enterprise this week.

The sheriff said he waited to execute a search warrant because he wanted to establish that the drug-related activity was ongoing, and not a one-time occurrence.

“We didn’t want anyone to be able to say, ‘Oh, it was just that once, he was down on his luck, etc.,’” said Apple.

When the sheriff was ready to go in with the search warrant, a flurry of activity, which he didn’t anticipate, was going on at the motel.

Apple described events unfolding this way:

Before going into the motel office for the search, investigators saw Evans enter, then exit immediately. They followed Evans and stopped him a short distance away from the motel. Evans had 13 grams of cocaine, a small quantity of hash, and several Xanax pills.

Later, while investigators were raiding the motel office, Thomas McLaughlin arrived carrying a backpack and looking for Bojkovic. McLaughlin had two pounds of marijuana and a loaded .40-caliber Glock handgun.

A check showed that McLaughlin was a convicted felon, and had a revoked pistol permit, said Apple; McLaughlin stated that he had not turned over his guns because his wife had a valid New York State pistol permit.

Investigators then conducted a search of the McLaughlins’ home and found two more handguns and another half-pound of marijuana.

In total, the sheriff’s office seized from the Western Motel raid and the McLaughlins’ Watervliet home more than nine pounds of marijuana; nine-and-a-half ounces of powdered cocaine; six-and-a-half grams of MDMA, often known as ecstasy; a small quantity of hash, concentrated cannabis; several Xanax pills; and three Glock semi-automatic handguns.

Additionally, members of the department located $5,000 in cash believed to be proceeds from illegal narcotic sales.

“It spiraled that day,” said Apple, of the search-warrant execution. “Some of these people were not even our targets until they showed up at the motel; our real goal was to stop the seller.”

He also said, “A lot of people think narcotics are strictly a city issue, but, sadly, it’s everywhere. Narcotics are drugs that don’t discriminate.”

Sawyer was charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third-degree, a felony. He was arraigned in the Guilderland Town Court and released under supervision of the Albany County Probation Department.

Bojkovic was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, first-degree, a felony; criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree, a felony; criminal possession of marijuana, second-degree, a felony; criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree, a felony; and two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia, second-degree, a misdemeanor. He was arraigned in the Guilderland Town Court and ordered to be held at Albany County’s jail without bail.

Thomas McLaughlin was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree, a felony; criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree, a felony; and criminal possession of marijuana, second degree, a felony. He was arraigned in the Guilderland Town Court and ordered to be held at the Albany County Jail in lieu of $40,000 bail.

Jennifer McLaughlin was charged with criminal possession of marijuana, second-degree, a felony. She was arraigned in the Watervliet City Court and released under the supervision of the Albany County Probation Department.

Evans was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree, a felony; criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree, a felony; two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, seventh-degree, a misdemeanor; two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second-degree, a misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance not in the original container, and two vehicle and traffic violations, all violations. He was arraigned in the Guilderland Town Court and ordered to be held in Albany County’s jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.

“People need to be aware of the pervasiveness of narcotics,” Apple concluded. “In this case, we were able to stop the seller and get a cache of narcotics and some handguns off the street, but there are still users everywhere.”

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