Farmington man agrees to not appeal sentence, forfeiture in marijuana case

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BANGOR – A Farmington man who pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge agreed to not appeal up to a 63-month prison sentence and to not contest forfeiture proceedings, according to court documents filed at the U.S. District Court.

Randal Cousineau, 69, of Farmington, pleaded guilty on Oct. 27 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics, including in excess of 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants. Following last month’s plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a 14-count complaint against a dozen individuals associated with what federal investigators say was an illegal marijuana grow operation that realized more than $13 million in profits up until July 2020, when search and seizure warrants were executed at a number of addresses across Franklin County.

According to court documents, had the case proceeded to trial, prosecutors would have introduced evidence that since at least 2016 Cousineau was the “primary financier” and a 50% partner in a marijuana cultivation facility known as the shoe shop, located at 374 High Street in Farmington, through holdings in two companies: Sandy River Properties, LLC and Lakemont, LLC. Cousineau also held a 25% interest in Narrow Gauge Distributors, Inc., a marijuana distribution company.

“Activities at the Shoe Shop were not compliant with Maine’s medical marijuana laws,” the U.S. Attorney wrote in the document, citing an excess of $1 million in black market marijuana sales in 2018 and 2019. Cousineau was not a registered caregiver with the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy, despite being a 50% partner. Additionally, the actions of Narrow Gauge Distributors, which reportedly included purchasing marijuana and related products from the Shoe Shop and others and reselling to third-party vendors, was “never contemplated by Maine’s medical marijuana law.”

Cousineau’s arranged plea includes non-binding recommendations from the federal prosecutor and his defense that would reduce the eventual sentence imposed by the court. These include that the court find that Cousineau accepted responsibility for his offenses and that the defendant did agree to proceed by video teleconferencing – a point made significant due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the judicial system.

Cousineau also agreed to waive his rights to appeal the guilty plea and a sentence of imprisonment that doesn’t exceed 63 months. The document detailing the agreement noted that 63-month timeframe did not necessarily represent an estimate of the anticipated sentence.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet for Cousineau who was released on a personal recognizance bond.

In addition to giving up the right to appeal sentences equal or less to a little more than five years in prison, Cousineau also agreed to waive any claim to property subject to forfeiture. This includes property held by Sandy River Properties, LLC or Lakemont, LLC, including the shoe shop at 374 High Street; any property held by Narrow Gauge Distributors, Inc.; a little more than $407,000 held in three bank accounts under the names of those companies; as well as $240,000, representing narcotics proceeds obtained by Cousineau from July 2018 through July 2020.

On July 21, 2020, law enforcement agencies executed search warrants throughout Franklin County and seized 4,739 plants, $425,700 and 551 kilograms of marijuana; the bulk of the processed marijuana, 469 kilograms, was taken out of the shoe shop. A dozen people were charged with either conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances or an associated charge relating to bank fraud, honest services fraud or tax fraud. Eleven of those 12 people were indicted last week by a federal grand jury; the 12th, a Franklin County assistant district attorney who has been charged with tampering with proceedings and tampering with documents, had her case continued by the agreement of both parties and was not indicted.

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