BANGOR — The man accused of being the brains behind a scheme to distribute cocaine in northern Penobscot County pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges Thursday morning in U.S. District Court nearly one year after he was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Michael Mayer, 55, of Jupiter, Fla., and Costa Rica was indicted Nov. 16 for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. That indictment was sealed until March, when Mayer’s co-defendants in the Lincoln-Lee area began being arrested on similar charges.
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. Mayer had been held in Costa Rica for months before his extradition to the U.S.
Mayer agreed Thursday to be held without bail pending the resolution of his case. A trial date tentatively has been set for Jan. 6.
Mayer allegedly ran the operation for 3½ years beginning in January 2002, when a Rhode Island man allegedly took over the operation.
The number of defendants in the case now totals 18. Several have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Others are scheduled to arraigned on drug charges next month.