BANGOR, Maine — A Caribou man who had staunchly maintained his innocence finally came clean about his involvement in an Aroostook County drug ring just minutes before he was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Anthony Caparotta, 44, told U.S. District Judge John Woodcock about 90 minutes after he met with federal prosecutors that he repeatedly had lied to his attorney, his family, the court and a jury of his peers. He then threw himself on the mercy of the court.
“I apologize for lying to you, the jury, my wife and my attorney,” he told the judge.
Woodcock was not impressed. He sentenced Caparotta to five years and eight months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute marijuana but not before severely admonishing him for his eleventh-hour confession.
“I have to tell you I’m very angry about what you did in front of this court and a federal jury,” Woodcock said in imposing the sentence. “I want it clear that I have no objection to your standing on your right to a trial. What I object to and what I’m angry about is that you took the stand in this courtroom before me and before a jury and you swore to tell the truth and you lied — persistently, repeatedly and in a material fashion.”
In June, Caparotta and Raymond “Rocky” Fogg, 56, of Winn were convicted by a jury of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in 2003 and 2004 for Michael Pelletier, 57, of St. David. Caparotta took the stand in his own defense during the five-day trial and repeatedly denied being a distributor for Pelletier. He confessed Tuesday that he had committed perjury.
Woodcock also sentenced Caparotta to four years of supervised release after he completes his prison term and imposed a $17,900 fine. That is the value of a piece of property the defendant owns in Van Buren. Caparotta also must forfeit his 2000 Grand Prix to the government because the jury found he had purchased the car with profits from drug sales.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Caparotta faced between 78 and 97 months in prison before his last-minute confession. After he spoke with federal prosecutors for 90 minutes, he qualified for a reduction in his sentence due to the information he provided. That was negated by the increase Woodcock imposed for his previous lies. Perjury charges are not expected to be filed against Caparotta.
In the end, Caparotta’s guideline range was 63 to 78 months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey and defense attorney Robert Napolitano of Portland recommended Caparotta be sentenced to 68 months, the sentence Woodcock imposed.
If the defendant had pleaded guilty and skipped a trial, he most likely would have been sentenced to 2½ to 3½ years in prison.
Caparotta said Tuesday that when he got involved in the drug smuggling ring he owed $20,000 in back child support and $24,000 on his credit cards.
As he formally imposed the sentence, Woodcock issued the defendant a stern warning.
“I hope your standing here and admitting the depth of your duplicity before your family and this court represents a decision to change your life,” the judge said. “If it doesn’t, you do not want to see me again.”
Caparotta was indicted along with Fogg, Pelletier and three others by a federal grand jury in September 2006.
Fogg’s sentencing date has not been set. He also was convicted of Social Security fraud.
Pelletier is serving a life sentence in federal prison.
One of the other three, Michael Easler, 29, was sentenced in August 2007 to 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling. He admitted that he swam the marijuana across the river before Adam Hafford, 38, of Westfield took over his duties.
Ben Dionne, 28, of St. David and John “Scooch” or “Scoochy” Pascuccui, 50, of Gorham are facing drug conspiracy charges. They are expected to be tried separately next year.
Hafford, who testified against Pelletier, Fogg and Caparotta, is serving a 10-year sentence on a federal gun charge. He was granted immunity on drug charges in exchange for his testimony.
Archie Ladner, 44, of Easton, who was indicted separately, was found not guilty more than a year ago of drug charges. Ladner, who was accused of being Hafford’s driver, died May 25 of natural causes.