ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Southwest Harbor man is expected to spend at least three years behind bars after having been convicted of dealing in heroin, according to court documents.

Robert “BJ” Power, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hancock County Superior Court to a charge of unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs, according to court documents. He received an overall sentence of eight years with all but three years suspended, and he will have to serve three years of probation upon his release. He also will have to pay $505 in fines and fees.

It is not Power’s first drug conviction. He was convicted in the same court of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs in January 2005 and of acquiring drugs by deception in October 2000.

The most recent charges arose from an undercover drug operation in Southwest Harbor in September 2008. Power sold heroin to a confidential informant at a Seawall Road home Sept. 22, according to a police report on the incident.

Police subsequently obtained a search warrant of Power’s home and, when they executed it, found a cigarette pack with heroin in it and the same bills that had been used to buy the heroin a short time earlier. The money was found in the bottom of the sock Power was wearing on his left foot.

Power initially was charged with aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs after the drug bust, but the charge was reduced to unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs as part of a plea deal.

Power’s attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth, said his client decided to plead guilty because of the evidence prosecutors had against him. Not only did they have the controlled drug buy, he said, but they also had a recording of a phone call Power made from Hancock County Jail after the arrest. In that call, which was recorded as part of the jail’s routine practice, Power essentially acknowledged he was guilty.

“If you heard the tape, you would know why he pled [guilty],” Toothaker said.

Power’s previous trafficking conviction stems from an incident in which drugs were found at a home in Trenton on May 24, 2004. While executing a search warrant at the property, police found 9 grams of heroin and $7,000 cash in a safe, police said at the time.

In the 2004 case, Power was arrested elsewhere after police executed the search warrant.

Power also was involved in a 1999 incident in which five teenagers were injured in Southwest Harbor when one of them tried to reignite a fire by pouring gasoline into a wood stove in an ice shack. Power, who ended up being treated for significant burns at a Portland hospital, had been arrested in Bar Harbor hours before the fire occurred on a charge of receiving stolen property.

According to Toothaker, it was morphine that Power was prescribed during his recovery from the burns that helped get him addicted to drugs and started him on the path of drug convictions.

Avatar photo

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....