Sheriff’s deputies and a prosecutor in Maine are accused by federal authorities of aiding an illegal cannabis operation in the state, the Associated Press reports. Two deputies are alleged to have accepted new cars and an ownership stake in the operation, while other law enforcement officers and a prosecutor are accused of providing intelligence and tipping off the participants.
The farm allegedly diverted $13 million in cannabis that was cultivated under the auspices of the state’s medical cannabis program, the report says. Twelve people were charged in the complaint, which was unsealed Wednesday, including a Rangeley select board member, an assistant district attorney, two Franklin County sheriff’s deputies, an Oxford County sheriff’s deputy, and a Wilton police officer.
The Franklin County deputies are accused of accepting cars and ownership stake in exchange for confidential information, while the prosecutor allegedly tipped off a police officer about the investigation, and two other officers warned the Franklin County deputies they were under surveillance by investigators, according to court documents outlined by the AP.
Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills, who also serves as president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, called the alleged involvement of law enforcement in the illegal cannabis operation “very upsetting.”
“The Maine Chiefs of Police Association has always stood for equal application of the laws to everyone in the state of Maine and we are confident in the next phase of the judicial system to adjudicate this case accordingly.” – Mills to the AP
An attorney representing one of the deputies said his client should not be prejudged based on the “one-sided” version of events laid out by federal prosecutors.
So far, one person with 50% ownership in the operation has pleaded guilty in the case. The rest of the non-law enforcement defendants have made initial court appearances.
The attorney for Lucas Sirois, the alleged ringleader of the illegal grow, told the AP that his client “took great steps to ensure that he was acting in accordance with Maine law” and that the federal charges are based on “the words of a disgruntled former employee.”