Amber Meserve, of Limerick Credit: Courtesy | Journal Tribune

PORTLAND — A woman described as the driver and lookout in a burglary ring that stole guns and exchanged them for drugs has been sentenced to three years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Amber Meserve of Limerick, who was 22 when she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess stolen firearms in 2015, had her two small children with heroin in the car during one of the burglaries, police said at the time of her arrest.

Meserve initially pleaded innocent. She changed her plea to guilty late last year, and was sentenced on Thursday by Judge Jon Levy at U.S. District Court in Portland.

According to court documents, Meserve’s attorney, Thomas Dyhrberg, said she was addicted to heroin when she was arrested and taken to York County Jail in November 2014. He said she detoxed while at the jail, and completed a 28-day substance abuse program in Limestone.

The court has recommended that Meserve, who is pregnant and due to deliver in early June, serve her sentence at a federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.

“During the three months that she was free on bail pending her guilty plea in this case, Amber stayed out of trouble, remained employed, and most importantly, clean and sober,” Dyhrberg said in a presentence report. “She faces sentencing confident that with counseling and the support of her now-sober mother, she will succeed in raising a happy, healthy baby, reconnecting with the children removed from her care, and leading a productive, drug-free life.”

Meserve’s brother, Cole Meserve, 21, and her boyfriend at the time, Christopher Michaud, 23, entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to possess and possession of stolen firearms in September. Cole Meserve is scheduled to be sentenced June 7. A sentencing date for Michaud has not been set.

The trio were apprehended after an investigation by Maine State Police, the York County Sheriff’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Police said the three were responsible for more than 20 burglaries in various communities, including Buxton, where they stole three firearms; Lyman, where they stole 15 firearms; and Sebago, where they stole three guns. Court documents allege the trio sold some of the guns from the Lyman burglary for drugs and money.

Police caught a break in the case in November 2014, when a man arrested on a theft charge relayed some information that eventually led to the arrest of the trio and others. Armed with a warrant, police searched two houses in Limerick, one in Buxton and a self-storage locker facility in Limerick.

Investigators recovered several guns, three dirt bikes, televisions, computers and other electronic devices, as well as what police described as “a large amount” of marijuana and heroin.

In a letter to the judge, Meserve’s mother, Jennifer Clifford, described her daughter as a good kid who had a tough life.

“Much of that is my fault,” Clifford wrote to the judge. Her daughter witnessed her being abused by a boyfriend who broke her back with steel-toed boots, said Clifford, who was 21 when she was attacked.

Clifford became addicted to drugs but has been clean and sober for five years, she said. She stopped using drugs, she said, after her daughter, who had quit school and had a child, insisted she do so.

“That is why it is so heartbreaking and hard to understand that Amber eventually developed a drug problem herself,” her mother wrote.

She said after Meserve was arrested and completed the Limestone drug program, she did well, and never failed a drug test.

“My daughter has really learned a lesson from all this,” Clifford wrote.