Crime

Owner of Bellingham iPod repair store guilty of dealing cocaine, giving drug to girl

The owner of an Apple repair store in Bellingham pleaded guilty Thursday, Sept. 15, to dealing cocaine at his business and giving a prescription painkiller to one of his teenage employees.

For years Blair Alan Hewitt, 39, ran Blair’s iPod Repair and Mr. iFIXit shops, where he advertised cheap same-day fixes for water-damaged iPods, cracked iPhone screens and freezing Mac computers. He sold refurbished Apple gear at a discount with a large clientele of college students.

Hewitt was arrested in late 2013 at his business, 840 N. State St., on suspicion of selling cocaine to an undercover detective. Bellingham police said they received drug-related complaints about Hewitt and spent four months investigating him.

Charging papers outline how Hewitt arranged the first cocaine deal on Nov. 20, 2013.

He told the detective in text messages to meet his friend, Joe, at the back of Blair’s Bagels, a bagelry he planned to open on North State. There, a man later identified as Joseph James Christina, 39, sold the officer about 1.26 grams of cocaine.

Two days later Hewitt sold the detective another 2.4 grams at his house down the street. Then in early December 2013, the detective met Hewitt at Blair’s Repair, paid him for cocaine and walked over to Blair’s Bagels, where Christina gave him 5 grams at Hewitt’s direction.

Hewitt and Christina were arrested to face three counts of cocaine delivery. Back working at Blair’s a few days later, Hewitt, while talking to a reporter from The Bellingham Herald, denied selling cocaine himself, claiming the detective had been persistent, so he directed him to a dealer. He went on to say it was obvious that he was talking with an undercover cop. He vowed his store would remain open “forever.”

And over the months and years that followed, between stints in jail, Hewitt stayed in business under several names and addresses: first, Blair’s Repair on North State, followed by Mr. iFIXit on Bakerview and a mix of both names at his home on Rose Street. (The bagel shop never opened.)

On his website, while he awaited trial, Hewitt offered private lessons about how to set up and get the most of mobile devices and laptops, at a rate of $170 an hour.

In late August 2015, a teenage girl showed up at St. Joseph hospital for a sexual assault exam. She reported that Hewitt hired her two days earlier to help him run errands because he had a broken leg. She drove Hewitt to his house on the night of Aug. 26, and he invited her inside, offered her an alcoholic drink and a small white pill and asked if she wanted to lie down on his bed to watch a movie, according to charging papers. She started to feel dizzy and “out of it,” she reported, and she recalled Hewitt kissing her. She did not think he sexually assaulted her, charging papers say. She left the house around 9 p.m. and went to the hospital a few hours later. A nurse found a testosterone patch on her arm. The girl didn’t know how it got there.

The next night Hewitt texted the girl’s phone and told her the pill was codeine from Canada. He added that he had “something better than those pills” and offered to let her come over and try cocaine, according to charging papers.

A detective confronted Hewitt on Aug. 28, about what had happened with the girl. He admitted to giving her codeine, but said he was kidding about the cocaine. He recalled the girl grabbed a patch – nicotine, he said – on her way out the door.

In September the girl’s urine test came up positive for alcohol and oxycodone, a different opioid. Hewitt was charged with distribution of a Schedule II narcotic drug to a minor, delivery of a legend drug, and furnishing liquor to a minor.

He posted $100,000 bond, but he did not show up for court dates that followed. He was charged with bail-jumping and arrested on a bench warrant in May. Since then Hewitt has remained behind bars.

On Thursday he pleaded guilty to four felonies: three counts of cocaine delivery and one count of delivery of a legend drug. Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis approved a plea deal and sentenced him to 20 months in prison and 20 months on probation in what’s known as a Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.

In a report on whether he would be a good candidate for the program, Hewitt acknowledged an addiction to Percocet that cost him $300 a day.

Hewitt told the judge he plans to look for work in construction once he is released.

Minutes later, his co-defendant, Christina, admitted guilt to cocaine delivery and pleaded guilty in three other cases: a series of thefts of high-end bikes around Birch Bay, selling the stolen rims and tires of a Mustang Cobra to a used-auto shop and possessing heroin and methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 7½ years. Half of that time will be served in prison, and the other half will be served on probation, Montoya-Lewis ruled.

Meanwhile, Blair’s Repair appears to have shuttered sometime in the past few months. Repeated calls to the business Thursday were met with a busy signal.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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