Rashaad McKinney Credit: Courtesy Kennebec County Jail

A New York man has been charged in U.S. District Court in Bangor in connection with a scheme to trade drugs and cash for handguns in the Augusta area.

Rashaad J. McKinney, 26, of Rochester, New York, and Benton, Maine, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possess heroin and crack cocaine, the distribution of heroin, the distribution of crack cocaine and conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws.

McKinney, who goes by the nicknames Dawson and D, pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor after his arrest earlier in the day. He is being held without bail pending a hearing set for Tuesday.

He is one of several people indicted in connection with a drug distribution ring that allegedly operated in the Augusta area between November 2016 and September 2017. McKinney and others — who have not yet been arrested so have not been identified — paid drug customers to purchase a dozen guns for them in exchange for heroin, crack cocaine and/or cash, the indictment said.

Several of the guns were taken to Rochester by co-conspirators, the indictment alleged. Court documents did not state whether they were used in crimes in New York or not.

The federal charges are related to a Kennebec County case last year, according to McKinney’s attorney, Harris Mattson of Bangor.

“Mr. McKinney is a resident of Maine who grew up in Rochester, New York,” Mattson said Thursday in an email. “He works as a cook in central Maine and lives close to his girlfriend and her parents.”

“The federal government has charged him with very serious crimes that allegedly took place over a year ago, around the same time that similar charges in state court were dismissed,” the attorney said. “Mr. McKinney maintains his innocence.”

McKinney was arrested in April 2017 during a traffic stop in Waterville, according to a central Maine newspaper. He was being followed by Maine State Police troopers and Waterville officers when he failed to stop at a stop sign.

Once stopped, he took off on foot, dropping items as he fled, the report said. Police reportedly recovered two bags, one of which contained heroin.

McKinney pleaded guilty in August to unlawful possession of heroin and an unrelated assault charge.

In a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to a drug possession charge was sentenced at the Capital Judicial Center to 90 days in the Kennebec County Jail to be followed by two years of probation. More serious charges of aggravated drug trafficking were dropped.

A request for comment from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jody Mullis was not immediately returned. It is the practice of federal prosecutors not to comment on cases until they have been resolved.

If convicted of the federal charges, McKinney faces up to 20 years and fines of $1 million on the drug counts and up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the firearms conspiracy charge.

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