April 26, 2018
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Calais man sentenced in gun case

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A Calais hardware store clerk was sentenced in U.S. District Court to a year and a day in prison for transferring a firearm to a nonresident of Maine.

Bruce Thibeault, 34, a clerk at Johnson’s True Value Hardware, was also sentenced Thursday to two years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine.

He is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Dec. 22.

Charges against Thibeault were the result of a joint operation of agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was designed to curtail the flow of guns into Canada from Maine.

Three other men were charged as a result of the investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Thibeault, who pleaded guilty in June, admitted that in May 2007 he told an undercover officer with the RCMP that he couldn’t sell him a gun because the man was not a U.S. citizen. But Thibeault also admitted telling the Mountie that he would need to have someone “on this side” purchase the gun for him. The RCMP officer, who was accompanied by an undercover ATF agent, had the agent purchase the gun for him.

Thibeault had participated in similar sales to nonresidents of Maine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The investigation that led to Johnson’s True Value Hardware store apparently began in June 2006, when the owner of a Machias gun shop canceled the sale of eight 9 mm pistols to Lawrence Sears, 63, of Perry and alerted the ATF that he suspected the man was buying guns for another individual.

In interviews with investigators, Sears admitted that he had tried to buy the guns in Machias for Andrew Porter, 34, of St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He also said that he bought guns in June 2006 for Porter in Brewer.

Police charged a second man, Kurt Carter, 42 of Alexander, with buying guns for Porter after a person in Calais told police in February 2007 she had found an empty handgun box in a trash container behind a local auto parts store. The investigation led to Carter, who admitted that he had bought 18 guns on eight occasions for Porter while working at Johnson’s True Value Hardware store. Carter said that Porter paid him $30 to $40 for each gun.

Porter pleaded guilty earlier this year to buying and possessing guns illegally. He was sentenced in September to 31 months in prison.

Sears and Carter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to export guns without a license in September 2007. Sears was sentenced in July to 18 months in prison. Carter is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 15.

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