Federal grand jury indicts 11 defendants in marijuana grow operation

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BANGOR – Eleven of the 12 defendants charged in connection with a federal investigation into a marijuana growing operation in Franklin County were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday.

Information about the investigation, which was linked to a series of law enforcement searches conducted throughout Franklin County in July 2020, became available late last month after one of the individuals identified as a co-conspirator, Randal Cousineau, 69, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants. That charge carries a maximum fine of $10 million and life sentence; a federal judge will decide the actual sentence following the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

Cousineau’s plea was linked to an investigation by multiple federal agencies into an industrial marijuana grow operation and associated activity in Franklin County that began in 2019. A dozen individuals were initially charged last month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including a former selectman, multiple members of law enforcement and a tax preparer, on charges that range from conspiracy to distribute drugs to money laundering to honest services fraud to tax fraud.

On Tuesday, eight people were indicted on the initial count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, namely marijuana. Those indicted included Lucas Sirois, 41 of Farmington, who federal investigators allege was the leader of the illegal grow operation, as well as his estranged wife Alisa Sirois, 43 of Farmington, and his father Robert Sirois, 68 of Farmington. Others indicted by the grand jury on the count of conspiracy include David Burgess, 53 of Rangeley, Brandon Dagnese, 27 of Scarborough, Ryan Nezol, 38 of Farmington, Bradley Scovil, 33 of Rangeley and Derrick Doucette, 29 of Jay.

Lucas Sirois, Alisa Sirois and Burgess were also indicted on the second count, conspiracy to commit money laundering. Burgess and Lucas Sirois were additionally indicted on count three, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, in relation to Burgess’ former position as selectman in Rangeley. Sirois is also named in count four, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, along with Doucette and Scovil. That count relates to allegations that the former Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputies provided law enforcement confidential information to Sirois.

Count five, bank fraud, names Lucas Sirois and Alisa Sirois, while Lucas Sirois, Doucette and Scovil are named in count six, which is also bank fraud.  Burgess is the lone defendant named in count seven, another allegation of bank fraud.

Two other members of law enforcement were also indicted. Kevin Lemay, 33 of Farmington, was named in count eight, tampering with documents, and James McLamb, 29 of Auburn, named in count nine, also tampering with documents. Lemay, an officer with the Wilton Police Department, and McLamb, formerly a deputy with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, are alleged to have destroyed electronic messages between Lemay, Doucette and Scovil, and McLamb and Doucette, respectively.

The grand jury also indicted Sirois, Burgess and Kenneth Allen, 48 of Farmington, on count 10, conspiracy to defraud the United States and impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service. Sirois was also indicted for count 11, tax evasion, while Allen was indicted for count 12, tax fraud. Federal investigators allege that Allen assisted in the preparation of Sirois’ taxes, underreporting his income for tax years 2017 and 2018.

Not indicted was Kayla Alves, a Franklin County assistant district attorney who was charged with tampering with proceedings and tampering with documents as part of the initial slate of charges filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor late last month. A judge granted an amended motion for an extension of time for Alves’ case on Monday at the request of both parties.

In addition to the 11 defendants, the grand jury did indict three companies, Lakemont LLC; Sandy River Properties, LLC; and Spruce Valley, LLC, for three separate counts of maintaining drug-involvement premises. The first two companies are linked in the indictment to property at 374 High Street in Farmington, the old shoe shop, while Spruce Valley is linked to 105 Avon Valley Road in Avon, known as the old toy factory.

A series of forfeiture allegations are tied in with the first four counts of the indictment. They target a dozen properties, including the shoe shop and old toy factory; vehicles including five cars, three motorcycles, a snowmobile, a trailer and a pontoon boat; and more than $1.3 million, including $435,000 in cash and additional funds located 17 accounts.

An indictment means that after considering the evidence the U.S. Attorney has presented, the majority of the grand jury believes there is probable cause, or a “reasonable belief” that the crime occurred.

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