BANGOR, Maine — The man accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme to distribute more than 10 pounds of cocaine in northern Penobscot County pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Michael Mayer, 55, of Jupiter, Fla., and Costa Rica made his first appearance in federal court nearly one year after he was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Mayer agreed Thursday to be held without bail pending the resolution of his case. A trial date tentatively has been set for Jan. 6.
If convicted, Mayer faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison and a fine of up to $4 million. He had been held in Costa Rica for months before his extradition to the U.S.
Mayer is one of 18 people who have been indicted since November on drug conspiracy, Social Security fraud and other charges. Two men have pleaded guilty in the case and are awaiting sentencing. Another man is scheduled to plead guilty next week.
The original indictment that included Mayer was sealed until March, when the authorities began arresting the Florida man’s co-defendants in the Lincoln-Lee area on similar charges. Two superseding indictments handed up in July and September added six more defendants, two of whom are incarcerated on charges unrelated to the original case.
All but one of the defendants named in the most recent indictment have been arrested in Florida, according to court documents.
Information about what turned out to be a major drug-distribution ring first became public in November 2006, when Michael Blish, 37, of Lee, who is a convicted sex offender in Maine, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to being part of a drug conspiracy. It was not until May 2008, when the first indictment was unsealed, that the scope of the operation was revealed.
Mayer allegedly supplied the others in the distribution ring with a kilogram of cocaine once a month between January 2002 and June 1, 2005, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who is prosecuting the case. Individuals would drive to Florida and bring the drug back to Maine, where it was divided into smaller quantities that were sold to distributors for subsequent sale to users.
After an alleged dispute between Mayer and his buyers in Maine over money, Casey said, members of the drug ring obtained cocaine through November 2005 from Laurent “Larry” Provost, 60, of Woonsocket, R.I., who then was living in Mansfield, Mass. The relationship between the Maine buyers and Provost ended after less than six months in a disagreement over money and the quality of the drugs, Casey said earlier this year.
The ring, with the help of Blish, then turned to two people from the Dominican Republic who were operating out of Lawrence, Mass. Prosecutors have not named them. They were arrested in New Hampshire on unrelated drug charges in January 2006 and are serving federal prison terms, Casey said. Where the members of the group obtained drugs after that has not been made public.
The three Florida residents recently arrested are: Raymond Davis, 48, of Lincoln and Jupiter, Fla.; Jeffrey Edwards, aka Bow Neck, 42, of Bradenton and Islamorada, Fla.; and Lisa Delaurentiis, aka Lisa Fitzpatrick and Lisa Nylund, 41, of Jupiter, Fla.
Davis pleaded not guilty to drug conspiracy charges earlier this month and is free on $5,000 unsecured bail. Arraignments for Edwards and Fitzpatrick have not been scheduled.
Provost and Preston Chubbuck, 43, of Springfield have pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges and are awaiting sentencing. Provost also has pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud.
Others who have pleaded not guilty in the case are:
- Jeffrey Polk, 36, of Alaska.
- Daniel “Danny” Littlefield, 49, of Lee.
- Troy Littlefield, 42, of Oakfield.
- Robert Donath, 28, of Lincoln.
- Peter Glidden, 31, of Smithfield.
- Nancy Squeglia, 51, of East Millinocket.
- Brent “Cowboy” Noyes, 57, of Lincoln.
- Richard “Rat” Russell, 48, of Lincoln.
- Mark “Goober” Russell, 41, of Lincoln.
- Donald “Donny” Russell, 50, of Lincoln.
- Jeffrey Whitehead, 54, of Enfield.
The Russells are brothers. The Littlefields are related but are not siblings, according to prosecutors.
Mark Russell and Whitehead are serving sentences out of state.
Blish, the man whose information about the operation spurred the investigation — which stretched from Maine to Alaska to Florida and Costa Rica — is serving a 10½-year sentence in federal prison on drug charges unrelated to the Lee-Lincoln cocaine conspiracy.