February 26

Skowhegan woman sentenced for role in drug ring

Tara Pelletier, also of Waterville, was ordered to spend four years in federal prison as part of a trafficking ring that netted 21 arrests across central Maine.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The girlfriend of a Waterville man who led a conspiracy ring that brought cocaine and oxycodone from New York to market in central Maine was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

A Winslow man who helped distribute the drugs was also sentenced as part of ongoing court action following the 2012 arrests of 21 people charged in the case.

Tara Pelletier, 32, of Skowhegan, was ordered Wednesday to spend four years in federal prison, followed by three months of supervised release. The court also lists a Waterville address. Pelletier had pleaded guilty earlier to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and oxycodone.

In a memo to the court seeking a reduced sentence, her attorney, Matthew S. Erickson, maintained that Pelletier was less culpable than either Maurice McCray — her boyfriend who pleaded guilty to heading the conspiracy but has yet to be sentenced — or Tequan Walker, another defendant, who was sentenced to 51 months in prison for supplying drugs from out of state.

“While not her only role, one of her primary functions was to give Mr. McCray rides to meetings and drug deals,” Erickson wrote.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel B. Casey, said in a separate memo that Pelletier drove McCray to bus stations in Augusta and Portland to pick up couriers who were bringing in cocaine and oxycodone.

“On occasion, the defendant assisted McCray in wire-transferring money to individuals in New York to help fund the purchase of cocaine and oxycodone,” Casey wrote. He maintained Pelletier “played an integral role to the operation of McCray’s drug distribution business.”

In all, 21 people from Albion, Farmingdale, Augusta, Skowhegan, Waterville, Winslow and New York were charged in connection with the conspiracy, which operated from Jan. 1 to March 17, 2012. All but three have been sentenced.

Another defendant in the same case, Benjamin Lemieux, 31, of Winslow, was sentenced later Wednesday to 40 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty last March to the same charge to which Pelletier pleaded guilty.

His attorney, Robert Sandy, said in a sentencing memo that Lemieux didn’t engage in trafficking and didn’t profit from the distribution. Sandy said most of the transactions Lemieux engaged in were the purchases of drugs for his own use.

Pelletier, along with some others charged in the drug ring, was arrested in May 2012 in a sweep by law enforcement officers of Averill Condominiums in Waterville. Ten people were arrested that morning across central Maine.

Cabbie Keith Young, 48, who drove for P.T. Cab, had picked up a regular customer and arrived at the condos moments before being startled by dozens of police officers with guns drawn.

“All of a sudden, all I could see were guns,” he told a Morning Sentinel reporter. “They were coming from everywhere. I had guns in back of me, guns on the sides of me and guns in front of me. I said, ‘I’m not going nowhere!’

Staff Writer Doug Harlow contributed to this report.

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