A Bangor man convicted of drug trafficking earlier this year after someone who obtained drugs from him overdosed has been sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended.
In addition to prison time, Ralph Tripp, 38, was sentenced on Monday to four years of probation and ordered to pay a $400 fine.
If Tripp violated the conditions of his probation, which include abstaining from alcohol and drugs, he could be sent back to prison for up to eight years.
A jury in April found Tripp guilty on three counts of aggravated drug trafficking and one count of illegally possessing a gun. Jurors also found that Tripp was not responsible for the overdose death of a man outside his Center Street apartment in 2021.
A 36-year-old Lamoine man was found dead on April 17, 2021, 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.
Maine’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, testified at Tripp’s trial that the man died of a massive drug overdose. Cocaine and fentanyl found in the man’s blood during an autopsy each could have been lethal alone, the doctor told jurors. The man’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 to drive.
Assistant Attorney General Jason Horn, who prosecuted the case, recommended a sentence of either 20 years without any time suspended or a suspension of just five years. Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor requested that Tripp serve between eight and 10 years in prison.
“The state believes the sentence imposed appropriately reflects the serious nature of the defendant’s conduct to include the significant quantities of drugs found in the apartment,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said Thursday. “While we are disappointed that the jury did not find Mr. Tripp guilty of causing [a death], we are pleased that Mr. Tripp is being held accountable with a significant period of incarceration.”
Tripp has been held at the Penobscot County Jail unable to post $75,000 cash bail. That time will be applied to his sentence once he is transferred from the Bangor jail to the Maine State Prison in Warren.
Silverstein said after the trial that his convictions would be appealed 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 in April.
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. State legislators expanded protections in the law last year.
Tripp’s wife, Amanda Tripp, 36, of Bangor was sentenced July 12 to 10 years in prison with all but six years suspended. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, she pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated drug trafficking, and a second count was dismissed.
She also was sentenced to four years of probation and was ordered to pay a $400 fine. Amanda Tripp is incarcerated at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.
The Tripps each faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the drug trafficking counts. On the gun charge, Ralph Tripp faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.