Twelve people, including law enforcement and elected officials, face federal charges due to an unlicensed marijuana distribution operation in Maine.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the scheme took in more than $13 million over six years of untaxed bulk sales of marijuana, reports WMTW.
A Farmington man on Wednesday pleaded guilty in federal court to felonies authorities said were part of the conspiracy, reports the Portland Press Herald. Illegal marijuana cultivation and sales resulted in a 14-count criminal complaint against a dozen other people.
A county prosecutor, three former sheriff’s deputies, a police officer and an elected town official in Rangeley, Maine are among those charged.
More Than 1,000 KG And 1,000 Plants
Randal Cousineau, 69, pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison and a $10 million fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A federal judge will determine his sentence at a later date.
Federal authorities said Cousineau was the primary money behind an operation that grew and sold Cannabis in violation of Maine’s marijuana laws.
He faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
The operation primarily sold weed in bulk to people who weren’t marijuana caregivers and distributed it out of state. From 2016 to July 2020, when federal agents raided the operation in Farmington, Narrow Gauge Botanicals LLC, Cousineau made “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to prosecutors.
14-Count Criminal Complaint
Prosecutors filed a 14-count criminal complaint Wednesday in federal court that charges 12 people with a range of criminal conduct. Charges include conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. But that’s not all. Other charges were bank fraud, tampering with proceedings, tampering with documents, conspiracy to defraud the United States and to impede and impair the IRS, tax evasion and tax fraud. A statement issued Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee named the charges.
That complaint names Lucas Sirois, 41, of Farmington, as the leader of the criminal organization. He and his co-conspirators made more than $13 million over six years through the unlicensed sale of marijuana, the complaint alleges.
Sirois structured his operations to appear as though they complied with Maine’s medical marijuana regime. But he regularly sold bulk marijuana on the illicit market, including more than $1 million worth of Cannabis for out-of-state distribution in 2018 and 2019. Co-defendant Brandon Dagnese, 27, of Scarborough, allegedly distributed this weed. Dagnese is a convicted felon who was ineligible to hold a caregiver card in Maine, the complaint said.
Maine Sheriff’s Deputies Involved
A 109-page criminal complaint and affidavit lays out the case against Sirois, reports WGME. He’s the alleged leader of what police call the “Sirois organization.” It reveals how local law enforcement and government officials became part of the sprawling operation and how they tried to cover up their crimes.
According to the affidavit, in 2019, Lucas Sirois formed a marijuana distribution company with two Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Authorities claim Bradley Scovil and Derrick Doucette worked for Sirois for several months. Meanwhile, they were still employed with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
They are also accused of using law enforcement databases to provide information to Sirois. In exchange, they allegedly received cash and brand-new SUVs.
Scovil and Doucette left the sheriff’s department in late 2019. But the court paperwork states they remained in contact with two other officers and asked them for information.
Then-Wilton Police Officer Kevin Lemay and Oxford County Deputy James McLamb are accused of running license plates and using police databases. They allegedly did so to help figure out who was surveilling Doucette and Scovil.
Assistant DA Allegedly Tipped Off Suspect
Also included in the documents was an explanation of how Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Kayla Alves played a role in all of this.
Alves, Scovil’s neighbor, reportedly tipped him off to the federal investigation.
Another alleged key player in the criminal organization is a man named David Burgess. He is a former Rangely Selectman and described as having a “managerial role” in Sirois’ drug operations.
The documents say Burgess voted in favor of marijuana ordinances that would benefit Sirois in exchange for cash and investments in his business totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These former law enforcement and government officials face a variety of charges and could face decades behind bars. In total, 12 people are facing charges as part of this years-long investigation.
McLamb is facing up to 40 years in prison for his role. He is the current town manager in Dixfield.
WGME called the town for a response and was told “no comment.”