A jury on Thursday found a Bangor man guilty of drug trafficking and illegally possessing a gun but not responsible for the overdose death of a man outside a Center Street apartment a year ago.
Ralph Tripp Jr., 38, was charged with four counts of aggravated drug trafficking, all Class A crimes, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a Class C crime.
A sentencing date has not been set but is expected in May.
Jurors deliberated for nearly five hours Thursday after hearing testimony over seven days at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
The 36-year-old Lamoine man found dead on April 17, 2021, passed out after obtaining drugs from Tripp at his apartment at 64 Center St., a witness and friend of the victim told police. Tripp administered a dose of Narcan that failed to revive the man, according to a police affidavit. Tripp then called 911 but identified himself only as RJ.
Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, Maine’s chief medical examiner, testified Wednesday that the man died of a massive drug overdose. Blood collected during the autopsy showed the levels of cocaine and fentanyl in the deceased each could have been lethal alone, the doctor told jurors. The man’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of .08 to drive.
Jurors found Tripp not guilty of trafficking drugs that resulted in a death.
Tripp’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, said his client was pleased with the acquittal on the death charge but would appeal the drug trafficking convictions to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
“We stand by our argument that the government’s case was based on possession for which he should not have been charged under Maine’s current Good Samaritan Law,” Silverstein said.
That law protects someone who makes a good-faith effort to help someone experiencing a drug overdose from being prosecuted on certain drug-related charges.
The Maine attorney general’s office prosecuted the case.
“We respect the jury’s verdict, including the convictions for multiple aggravated trafficking offenses and the trafficking of drugs,” the office said Friday afternoon. “We are confident that those verdicts and the other rulings by the trial court will be upheld on appeal.”
Tripp’s wife, Amanda Tripp, 36, was indicted on two counts of aggravated drug trafficking, both Class A crimes. Her trial date has not been set.
Both have been at the Penobscot County Jail since their arrests, unable to post high cash bails.
After the verdict was announced, Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered that Ralph Tripp be held without bail while awaiting sentencing.
Ralph Tripp faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the drug trafficking counts. On the gun charge, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Amanda Tripp faces the same penalties if convicted of drug trafficking.