Frenchville man gets probation for helping launder drug money

Posted Oct. 27, 2008, at 8:40 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Frenchville man was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to two years of probation for helping a convicted marijuana smuggler buy a farmhouse four years ago in an effort to launder drug profits.

Richard “Ricky” Daigle, 36, also was ordered to pay $50,040 in restitution, the purchase price of the St. David property he helped buy for Michael Pelletier, 57, of St. David.

Daigle agreed to deliver cash provided by Pelletier to Pelletier’s attorney in September 2004. The Frenchville man also signed a purchase and sale agreement as purchaser of the property and a tax disclosure form.

Pelletier, according to court documents, gave Daigle $50,540 in cash in a plastic shopping bag in the attorney’s parking lot to pay for the 12-acre plot and farmhouse on Caron Road.

The St. David man, according to court documents, didn’t want the transaction in his name because he received disability benefits. Pelletier collected $400 to $500 a month in disability payments because he has been confined to a wheelchair since he was injured in an accident at age 11.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors last year, Daigle agreed to testify against Pelletier in exchange for a lesser sentence. The Frenchville man waived indictment and pleaded guilty in September 2007 to aiding and abetting money laundering. Daigle testified against Pelletier in July 2007.

Daigle faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faced between eight and 14 months in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who prosecuted the case, recommended Daigle spend five months in prison because of his cooperation.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor argued that his client should not be sentenced to jail time.

After being convicted of drug smuggling, money laundering and Social Security fraud, Pelletier forfeited the property to the government. It, along with other property Pelletier owned in Aroostook County, has been sold. Casey said Monday that he did not know how much the government made on the sales.

Pelletier is serving a life sentence in federal prison for overseeing the smuggling of marijuana across the Canadian border and running a multimillion-dollar distribution operation from the St. John Valley to Portland.

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