Two men accused of being part of a conspiracy to distribute marijuana through a medical pot smoking lounge in Bangor were in U.S. District Court on Thursday.
James Mansfield, 33, of Etna was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role in the conspiracy, which included running an indoor pot farm in a Frankfort warehouse.
Terrence Sawtelle, 49, of Bangor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana. By pleading guilty, Sawtelle admitted that he and Christopher Ruhlin, the owner of two Bangor head shops, grew the marijuana in Frankfort and distributed it through the Owls Club, Sawtelle’s smoking lounge, between 2010 and 2014, when Mansfield and others took over the grow operation.
Ruhlin, 49, of Holden pleaded guilty earlier this month to the drug conspiracy charge and to one count of structuring, or trying to hide cash deposits from bank regulators.
Sentencing dates for Sawtelle and Ruhlin have not been set. Both men remain free on bail.
Sawtelle’s attorney, Charles Hodsdon of Bangor, declined to comment on the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also refused to comment.
After Ruhlin changed his pleas to guilty last week, his attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor said the intent of his client was to produce medical marijuana that Sawtelle, a licensed provider, would distribute legally.
Mansfield’s sentence of a year and a day will allow him to earn good time and possibly be released after serving 10 months.
U.S. District Judge Jon Levy ordered him to report on Aug. 8 to a facility designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Levy also sentenced Mansfield to three years of supervised release after he completes his sentence.
Mansfield apologized to family members, who sat behind him in the courtroom.
“I prided myself on my clean record and my clear moral conscience,” he said. “The last two years have given me perspective and clarity on the situation I’ve gotten myself into.”
Mansfield told the judge that he started turning his life around after agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reported that they’d seized about 400 marijuana plants, 295 marijuana root bulbs, processed marijuana, receipts from a garden center totaling about $25,000 and other items on May 12, 2016, during a raid of the Frankfort facility.
Three months later, 23 containers of processed marijuana were seized from the 13 Owls Club smoking lounge, adjacent to Herbal Tea & Tobacco, the head shop Ruhlin owns in downtown Bangor.
By pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, Mansfield admitted that he helped run the indoor operation at a warehouse in Frankfort from 2014 until it was raided by police.
In sentencing Mansfield, the judge said that during the time the defendant was involved the operation, it produced three to five pounds of marijuana every two to four weeks. Levy said that even under state law, the number of plants cultivated at the warehouse was illegal.
Mansfield’s attorney, Terence Harrigan of Bangor, said after the sentencing that he was glad the judge recognized the good in his client.
“You never want to see your client go to jail, but I was pleased that Judge Levy acknowledged, both in his comments and the sentence imposed, that James is a good man who showed poor judgment on this one occasion,” Harrigan said. “His lack of prior record and his otherwise well-lived life made an impression on the judge and resulted in his getting a much shorter sentence than he could have.”
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Mansfield faced between 15 and 21 months in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jody Mullis recommended Mansfield spend 15 months in prison.
Harrigan urged Levy not to send Mansfield to prison but to sentence him to home confinement or probation.
Two other men, Jeremy Duguay, 35, and Nicholas Reynolds, 33, both of Bangor, have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy drug charge. They are free on bail and scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 25.
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