A former Rangeley selectman admitted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to accepting cash payments from a local marijuana grower in exchange for advocating for his agenda to selectmen, including a vote to advance a marijuana ordinance the grower had drafted as a town referendum, and other charges.
David Burgess, 55, of Rangeley is described in court documents as a “fixer” for alleged ringleader Lucas Sirois, 43, of Farmington who is accused of selling medical marijuana illegally from 2016 to 2020. Sirois was a licensed medical marijuana grower.
Burgess pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. through the Internal Revenue Service.
The crime of honest services fraud is defined as a scheme to defraud another of the intangible right to honest services through a scheme to violate a fiduciary duty by bribery or kickbacks. A fiduciary duty is a duty to act only for the benefit of the public, an employer, shareholders or a union, the statute says.
The tax charge stems from Burgess putting pressure on Sirois’ tax preparer to fraudulently lower the amount he had to pay income taxes on in 2017 and 2018.
Sirois paid Burgess $4,000 a week to handle Sirois’ personal and professional business, according to court documents.
In his plea agreement with prosecutors, Burgess waived his right to appeal his case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if his sentence is longer than nine years.
In addition to Burgess, two former Franklin County deputy sheriffs pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to charges related to their roles in an alleged conspiracy to sell medical marijuana illegally. Derrick Doucette, 31, and Bradley Scovil, 34, both of Rangeley admitted that they tipped Sirois to a federal investigation into his alleged illegal marijuana operation.
In exchange for the information, the former deputies received a promise of partial ownership in Narrow Gauge Distributors, a Maine limited liability corporation that cultivated and distributed marijuana, as well as annual salaries, the use of company cars, and other benefits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
In their plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Doucette and Scovil waived their right to appeal their cases to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if the sentences are no longer than four years and nine months.
Sentencing dates for the three men have not been set. All remain free on bail.
Defense attorneys and the federal prosecutor declined to comment on the cases. It is the practice of the U.S. Attorney’s office not to comment on pending cases.
Doucette and Scovil are two of more than a dozen defendants charged in connection with an alleged $13 million marijuana operation in western Maine in which prosecutors say Sirois sold medical marijuana out of state and in Maine on the black market.
Doucette and Scovil each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. In exchange for their pleas, charges of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana and bank fraud will be dismissed at their sentencings.
Ryan Nezol, 38, of Farmington is set to enter a guilty plea Monday to conspiracy to distribute and possession of marijuana.
The first defendant to plead guilty in the case was Randal Cousineau, 70, of Farmington, who admitted in October 2021 that he participated in a conspiracy to illegally cultivate and sell marijuana. 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.
Members of the conspiracy cultivated and sold marijuana in violation of Maine’s medical marijuana laws, selling bulk marijuana to people who were not registered as caregivers, and for distribution outside of Maine. Cousineau realized hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit from these illegal sales, according to court documents.
Also charged in the case was former prosecutor Kayla Alves, 38, of Farmington. She deleted text messages that showed she alerted Scovil, a neighbor, that federal authorities were investigating him and Doucette for their roles in the drug conspiracy, according to federal prosecutors.
Alves pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with documents as part of a plea agreement in March 2022. She was sentenced last August to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
She was suspended last year from practicing law for nine months. Her petition to be reinstated is pending before the Maine Board of Overseers, the organization that monitors ethical rules for lawyers.
A hearing on Sirois’ motion to dismiss charges pending against him and other defendants will be heard next week before U.S. District Judge Lance Walker.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the crime that Ryan Nezol will plead guilty to.