Manchester drug kingpin sentenced to 25 to 50 years

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Marcus Cherry gestures to someone in the spectator gallery while in court on March 29, 2024. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – Marcus Cherry, a drug kingpin who laundered drug proceeds through a local casino, was sentenced Friday to 25 to 50 years in the New Hampshire State Prison.

Cherry, 45, of Manchester, was convicted by a Hillsborough County Superior Court North jury of being a drug enterprise leader, of conspiracy to sell a controlled drug, four counts of possession of a controlled drug with the intent to sell (cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl) and sale of a controlled drug. 

“I want to thank our law enforcement partners, including the Manchester Police Department, the Hooksett Police Department, the Bedford Police Department, the DEA, and the FBI for their diligent work on this long-term investigation,” said Attorney General John M. Formella in a news release.  “This case is an example of the continuing collaborative work between the Attorney General’s Office and our law enforcement partners to protect the public from the dangers that large scale drug dealers, who sell extraordinarily dangerous substances like fentanyl, xylazine, and methamphetamine, pose to the citizens of New Hampshire.” 

Cherry was sentenced to 25 to 50 years on each of the drug enterprise leader, conspiracy and possession of drugs with intent to sell charges. Cherry was given a 7 ½ to. 15 years sentence on the sale of a controlled drug.  All of the sentences are to be served concurrently.

According to court documents, in the summer of 2021, Manchester police and Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force officers interviewed people discovered in possession of significant amounts of drugs, starting the investigation of Cherry and his drug-dealing enterprise.

Numerous times, police surveilled Cherry and his co-conspirators, Joy Schofield and Zoe Murphy.  On Nov. 4, 2021, police raided Schofield’s home at 508 Dubuque St. and Cherry’s residence at 51 Cumberland St.  Six days later, they also searched Cherry’s Honda Passport.

On Sept. 23, 2021, three people overdosed, with one, Jessica Furlow, dying.  Laura Williams and Brittany Furlow survived with medical intervention.  The overdoses, prosecutors said, were the result of Cherry’s selling 0.53 grams of fentanyl at the True Hotel.  He had sold the fentanyl as “cocaine” to Jessica Furlow and Laura Williams.

Despite that death and the overdoses, prosecutors say Cherry continued his drug enterprise, “stopping only because police arrested him and took away his drugs, his drug money and his liberty.”

On Oct. 11, 2021, police pulled over Zoe Murphy, resulting in the seizure of a 12-gauge tactical shotgun, a .357 magnum revolver and a significant amount of drugs belonging to Cherry including 632.95 grams of fentanyl; 35.2 ounces of cocaine, and 215.32 grams of methamphetamine.

On Nov. 4, 2022, police searched Schofield’s home at 508 Dubuque St., and Cherry’s residence at 51 Cumberland St.  They searched his Honda Passport on Nov. 10, 2021.  At Schofield’s, police recovered 29 grams of fentanyl and 46 grams of methamphetamine and $1,650 in cash, all belonging to Cherry.

At the Cumberland address, they recovered $193,655 and $58,106.56 in the form of gambling tickets/winning proceeds from Granite State Poker/Draft Kings.  An additional $22,254.21 was located in Cherry’s Citizens Bank account.  An additional 110.7 grams of fentanyl in the form of about 940 round blue tablets were found in his silver 2020 Honda Passport.

Prosecutors, in their sentencing memorandum, said at trial evidence proved Cherry engage in a “systematic drug money laundering scheme” whereby he would gamble drug money in the form of cash at a local casino in order to ultimately leave the casino with any winnings or remaining monetary losses in the form of a casino business check, which he would then deposit into his Citizens Bank account.

Assistant Attorney General Charles Bucca and Assistant Attorney General Ryan Olberding asked the court to order Cherry to forfeit all of the money – $274,015.77 – and his Honda as part of the sentencing.  The judge didn’t do that.

Michael Garrity, director of communications in the Attorney General’s office, said the state is seeking forfeiture of the cash in a separate civil proceeding.

“We currently have a hearing scheduled for the end of April that may be rescheduled,” he said.  “We will continue to litigate the State’s request to forfeit the funds that were seized in connection with the drug trafficking investigation as part of the ongoing civil proceeding.  We are not pursuing forfeiture of the Honda Passport due to a significant lien that remains on the vehicle.”

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.