A Farmington man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to felonies that authorities said were part of a wide-ranging conspiracy involving illegal marijuana growth and sales that resulted in a related 14-count criminal complaint against a dozen other people, including a county prosecutor, three former sheriff’s deputies, a police officer and an elected town official in Rangeley.
Randal Cousineau, 69, pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison and a $10 million fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. His sentence will be determined by a federal judge at a later date.
Federal authorities said Cousineau was the primary financier of an operation that grew and sold marijuana in violation of Maine’s marijuana laws, primarily by selling it in bulk to people who weren’t marijuana caregivers and distributing it out of state. From 2016 to July 2020, when federal agents raided the marijuana growing operation in Farmington, Narrow Gauge Botanicals LLC, Cousineau made “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors filed a 14-count criminal complaint Wednesday in federal court that charges 12 people with a range of criminal conduct, including conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, bank fraud, tampering with proceedings, tampering with documents, conspiracy to defraud the United States and to impede and impair the IRS, tax evasion and tax fraud, according to a statement issued Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee.
In that complaint, Lucas Sirois, 41, of Farmington is named as the leader of the criminal organization. He and his co-conspirators realized in excess of $13 million over six years through the illicit sale of marijuana, the complaint alleges.
Sirois structured his operations to appear as though they complied with Maine’s medical marijuana regime while he regularly sold bulk marijuana on the illicit market, including more than $1 million worth of marijuana for out-of-state distribution in 2018 and 2019 through co-defendant Brandon Dagnese, 27, of Scarborough, a convicted felon who was ineligible to hold a caregiver card in Maine, the complaint said.
Federal authorities said Sirois and others laundered money from the drug sales “through a complex corporate structure” and also lied to financial institutions about the source of his money, filed false tax returns and hired sheriff’s deputies to help gain access to confidential law enforcement records. Two of the then-deputies, Bradley Scovil, 33, of Rangeley and Derrick Doucette, 29, of Jay, were rewarded with shares of Sirois’ business and new “company cars,” federal prosecutors said.
Later, Sirois used Scovil and Doucette’s network of active law enforcement officials to obtain information about the ongoing federal investigation into his criminal activity, the complaint said.
The indictment said Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Kayle Alves, 36, of Farmington tipped off Scovil about the federal investigation into Sirois, and Wilton police officer Kevin Lemay, 33, of Farmington and then-Oxford County Deputy James McLamb, 29, of Auburn used government databases to warn Scovil and Doucette that they were under investigation.
Scovil and Doucette both left the Police dept. in novemeber 2019 after about four years of service, according to agency records.
Federal authorities also charge that Rangeley Selectman David Burgess, 53, took “tens of thousands of dollars” from Sirois to advance Sirois’ agenda, including a marijuana ordinance that Sirois had drafted for a town referendum. Sirois also paid Burgess thousands of dollars weekly to manage his marijuana operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Messages left seeking comment from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Franklin County District Attorney were not returned Wednesday night.
Potential sentences for the charges filed against the dozen charged Wednesday range from three to 30 years in prison and fines.
At least nine of the defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court in Bangor on Thursday or Friday.
A civil complaint also was unsealed Wednesday in federal court that seeks the forfeiture of 12 properties involved in the facilitation of illegal marijuana trafficking and/or purchased with illegal drug proceeds, McElwee said.