February 18

Augusta man to serve 10 months in federal prison on drug charge

Defendant Michael Pierce is to be in state court Wednesday on pharmacy robbery charges.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

An Augusta man will spend 10 months in federal prison for his involvement in selling 37 oxycodone pills on May 9, 2012, a day after he allegedly stole them in a robbery at a CVS Pharmacy in Augusta.

Michael C. Pierce, 33, of Augusta, pleaded guilty last October in federal court to illegal distribution of oxycodone.

He was sentenced Tuesday by Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

The drug transaction occurred near Interstate 95 in West Gardiner, and the deal was recorded by a confidential informant and involved an undercover agent, according to the government’s version of the offense, filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormack.

That document in U.S. District Court in Bangor says the pills were purchased from Jennifer Dowling, who pleaded guilty to illegal distribution of oxycodone in late January in U.S. District Court in Bangor and is awaiting sentencing. Pierce was driving the vehicle Dowling was riding in, McCormack says.

Pierce is scheduled for a Rule 11 proceeding at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court. That indicates he is expected to plead guilty to the May 8, 2012, robbery of the CVS Pharmacy on Stone Street and a June 18, 2012, robbery of CVS Pharmacy on Capitol Street. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those charges at the same time.

In both cases, the robber wore a fake beard and a wig and demanded oxycodone from the pharmacist. Codefendant Jeffrey D. Hodgkins, who pleaded guilty to the June 18, 2012, robbery, died on April 19, 2013, of an accidental drug overdose.

McCormack’s memo in federal court indicates Pierce wrote the demand note and provided the disguise to Hodgkins for the June 18, 2012, robbery.

“At the May 8 robbery, the robber handed the pharmacist a note that read: ‘Do not touch note I have gun will shoot if not given what I want I want all your Oxycodone 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 30mg, Oparas (sic) there is another person in here with gun and will shoot if alarm is hit do not call police until 60 seconds after I’m out of store I want all no games.’”

Potential penalties in the federal case include up to 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.

In his memo to the court, McCormack said federal guidelines set 10 to 16 months as an appropriate sentence for Pierce, and McCormack said he would recommend a sentence at the lower end of that.

Pierce’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras, suggested a sentence of six months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In a sentencing memo filed on Friday, Tzovarras said Pierce has spent 21 months in jail on the pharmacy robbery charges being handled in the state court system.

“Now 33 years old, and 21 months sober, Mr. Pierce is reflective of what led him to jail, and ready to move forward with his life and again become a productive member of his family and society,” Tzovarras wrote. He said Pierce’s family is supporting him and will help him remain sober once he is released.

Tzovarras’ memo says Pierce’s mother died when he was 13, and he began using marijuana several years later. “His drug use and addiction steadily deepened over the years. It grew to include daily use of cocaine and opiates.”

Previously, Dowling pleaded guilty to state charges of illegal possession of drugs after she was arrested as part of the investigation into the pharmacy robberies. She was sentenced to 364 days in jail, all suspended, followed by one year of administrative release, and she was fined $400.

Betty Adams — 621-5631 badams@centralmaine.com Twitter: @betadams
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