The New York attorney representing the man accused of running a $13 million illegal marijuana distribution ring out of his western Maine medical pot operation said Thursday that the federal government has “over-encroached” on state laws that allow sales of the drug in bringing the case.
Lucas Sirois, 41, of Farmington is facing multiple charges connected to the alleged illegal distribution ring. He’s one of 13 people facing charges connected to the far-reaching scheme in which Sirois allegedly gave cops ownership interests in his company and brand new cars in exchange for confidential information, and paid a Rangeley selectman tens of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for advancing his agenda.
The 13 people charged include a current prosecutor and police officer in western Maine; former law enforcement officers in the region, including one who’s the manager of an Oxford County town; the former Rangeley selectman; and relatives of Sirois.
Sirois made his first appearance Thursday morning in U.S. District Court in Bangor. One of the defendants pleaded guilty Wednesday. The others were scheduled to make their first appearances on Thursday and Friday. None are being asked to enter pleas to the charges because they have not yet been indicted by a federal grand jury. All are being released on bail.
Sirois’ attorney Timothy Parlatore said after his client’s court appearance that the case boils down to the fact that Maine has legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use but the federal government still classifies pot as an illegal drug.
“The [Drug Enforcement Administration] cannot spend federal funds to investigate the legitimate sale of marijuana in states where it has been legalized for recreational or medical use,” Parlatore said outside the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor. “We will look at seeking an injunction to keep the U.S. Attorney’s office from spending any more federal money to pursue this prosecution.”
The attorney said the case originated from information provided by a “disgruntled former employee who was fired by Mr. Sirois for committing crimes.”
Parlatore said he and other attorneys are seeking probable cause hearings in which prosecutors will have to show what evidence they used to bring the charges against the defendants.
“Somebody is not telling the truth,” he said.
Sirois is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, bank fraud, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and tax evasion.
If convicted, Sirois faces between 10 years and life in prison on the drug distribution charge alone.
Sirois’ legal team also includes Eric Postow of New York City and two former Maine lawmakers, Kenneth Fredette of Newport and Mark Dion of Portland. Dion is a former Portland deputy police chief and Cumberland County sheriff who later served as a Democrat in the Maine House and Senate.
The Augusta attorney representing Sirois’ estranged wife, Alisa Sirois, 43, of Kingfield, also criticized the government for continuing to prosecute marijuana cases.
“Apparently, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maine still thinks this is the 1980’s,” Ronald Bourget said Thursday. “Their office is attempting to enforce a 10-year mandatory minimum federal criminal statute under the Controlled Substances Act on the possession and distribution of marijuana notwithstanding the changed legal landscape.
Alicia Sirois is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess marijuana, conspiracy to launder money and bank fraud.
“This case cries out for a less antiquated approach to drug enforcement,” Bourget said. “The ‘war on drugs’ may still be ongoing, but the white flag on marijuana was raised years ago.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison set Lucas Sirois’ bail at $500,000 secured by $300,000 in personal property, mostly vehicles.
The judge set conditions that prohibit Sirois from handling or using marijuana even though he has a medical marijuana prescription. He also cannot have contact with any other defendants except his father, Robert Sirois, 68, of Farmington.
That could limit his ability to operate his medical marijuana business, which is still licensed to operate in Maine.
Court documents in the case were made public Wednesday after Randal Cousineau, 69, of Farmington pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and distribute more than a ton of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants.
He admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to illegally cultivate and sell marijuana from 2016 to July 2020. Cousineau was the primary financier and 50 percent partner in an illegal marijuana cultivation facility in Farmington, according to court documents. He also held an interest in an illegal marijuana distribution company.
David Burgess, 53, the former Rangeley selectman, allegedly accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments from Lucas Sirois, including investment in his internet start-up company, in exchange for advocating for Lucas Sirois’ agenda. That included voting to advance a marijuana ordinance that Lucas Sirois drafted for a town referendum.
Lucas Sirois paid Burgess thousands of dollars a week to manage his marijuana businesses, a conflict Burgess never publicly disclosed, the complaint said.
Burgess made his first court appearance Thursday and was released on personal recognizance bail. Conditions include his having no contact with co-defendants.
Bradley Scovil, 33, of Rangeley, and Derrick Doucette, 29, of Jay, both former deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, allegedly obtained confidential law enforcement information for Lucas Sirois. In exchange, they were given ownership interests in Sirois’ business and brand new “company” cars, according to the complaint.
Later, Lucas Sirois used Scovil and Doucette’s network of active law enforcement officials to obtain information about the ongoing federal investigation into his criminal activity.
Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Kayla Alves, 36, of Farmington allegedly tipped off Scovil to the existence of the Sirois probe. That came after Wilton police Officer Kevin Lemay, 33, of Farmington, and then-Oxford County deputy Sheriff James McLamb, 29, of Auburn, used government databases to confirm for Scovil and Doucette that they were being surveilled by law enforcement. Alves and Lemay are on administrative leave from their jobs while McLamb is still serving as town manager of Dixfield.
All three officials later destroyed electronic evidence of their wrongdoing with Scovil and Doucette to conceal it from investigators, the complaint said.
Alves’ attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, said that she did not commit a crime.
“It is disappointing to see her dragged into all of this,” he said. “She received all of nothing for the non-criminal things she did here. She is a respected prosecutor, a U.S. Army veteran who deployed to Iraq, and put herself through college and law school with three children.”
Andrew Robinson, district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, said he was “extremely concerned” by the allegations against Alves.
“I have taken action to remove her from her duties,” he said. “It is also very troubling to learn that members of law enforcement are alleged to have betrayed the public trust that has been placed in them.”
Sirois also is accused of using family and friends to conceal his illegal activities and maximize profits.
In addition to his estranged wife and father, Ryan Nezol, 38, of Farmington and others allegedly laundered drug proceeds through a complex corporate structure. Kenneth Allen, 48, of Farmington, a tax preparer, is charged with filing false income tax returns to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in income, resulting in a tax loss of more than $400,000.
In addition to Sirois, Burgess, Lemay, McLamb, Scovil and Doucette made their first court appearances Thursday.
Alicia Sirois, Robert Sirois, Nezol, Allen, Dagnese and Alves are scheduled to make their first court appearances Friday before Nivison.
In addition to the criminal complaint, a civil complaint was made public Wednesday seeking the forfeiture of 12 properties that were allegedly used to facilitate illegal marijuana trafficking and/or were purchased with illegal drug proceeds.
They are the first criminal charges to come after Sirois had several properties across Franklin County raided by the FBI and other agencies in July 2020. Law enforcement linked a dozen properties to drug trafficking shortly after that in notices saying it intended to seize them. They were in Farmington, Rangeley, Industry, Avon and Carrabassett Valley.