BANGOR, Maine — An Aroostook County man pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to being part of a smuggling ring that distributed marijuana from the St. John Valley to Portland.
Ben Dionne, 29, of St. David pleaded guilty, just one day before he was to go on trial with a Cumberland County man for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and failure to appear in federal court.Dionne’s plea agreement with prosecutors includes a clause that allows him to appeal his sentence to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston only if it is longer than 41 months.
He is expected to testify against John “Scooch” or “Scoochy” Pascucci, 50, of Gorham this week. Pascucci is charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Pascucci’s trial before U.S. District Judge John Woodcock is scheduled to begin today after jury selection and is scheduled to last two weeks.
Dionne distributed marijuana for Michael Pelletier, 57, of St. David between Jan. 1, 2003, and April 1, 2006, according to court documents. In the plea agreement with prosecutors, Dionne admitted distributing more than 60 pounds of marijuana around the state.
He failed to appear in federal court in Bangor on Nov. 6, 2006, on a motion to revoke his bail. He was released on $5,000 unsecured bail on Sept. 12, 2006, after pleading not guilty to the drug charge, but immediately failed to stay in touch with the U.S. Probation Office in Bangor.
Dionne, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, apparently fled to Canada in the fall of 2006. He was picked up in Canada in 2007. Dionne told Woodcock on Monday that he spent 13 months in a Canadian jail before being turned over to U.S. authorities in September 2008.
Three other men indicted along with Pelletier and Dionne have been convicted on drug charges for being part of Pelletier’s operation.
Pelletier was sentenced a year ago to 20 years in federal prison after being found guilty by a jury of drug smuggling, money laundering and Social Security fraud in July 2007. Pelletier, who is confined to a wheelchair, had previous convictions in state court on drug charges.
Michael Easler, 28, of St. David was sentenced in August 2007 to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug and money laundering charges.
Raymond “Rocky” Fogg, 56, of Winn and Anthony Caparotta, 44, of Caribou were found guilty in June 2008 of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The jury also found Fogg guilty of Social Security fraud.
Caparotta was sentenced in October to five years eight months in federal prison after he threw himself on the mercy of the court and admitted he had lied to his attorney, the jury and the judge in proclaiming his innocence.
Fogg is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 14.