Whiting man gets 17½ years for illegal gun

Posted July 20, 2009, at 8:24 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Whiting man was sentenced to 17½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm after a federal judge found he was an armed career criminal under the federal sentencing guidelines.

Mark McCurdy, 52, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock denied a motion that McCurdy remain free on bail pending an appeal to the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston and ordered the defendant to begin serving his sentence immediately.

McCurdy faced a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, the recommended sentencing range was between 17½ and 22 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended that the judge sentence McCurdy to 20 years in prison. Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor urged Woodcock to sentence his client to the mandatory minimum of 15 years.

The charge stemmed from a domestic violence complaint made by McCurdy’s live-in girlfriend on March 27, 2006, according to court documents. When Washington County sheriff’s deputies arrived at McCurdy’sw home to investigate, they found an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle, in his attic.

The serial number on the gun was traced to a Washington County gun shop, whose records showed that McCurdy’s former girlfriend bought the gun in 2000. She testified that McCurdy gave her the money to purchase the gun for him.

McCurdy was forbidden from possessing guns because of felony convictions during the 1980s in state courts for two separate burglaries and thefts at a now-closed Machias pharmacy and two armed robberies of Bangor pharmacies.

He also was convicted in 1994 on state charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and was convicted four times between 1980 and 2002 of drunken driving.

McCurdy was indicted on the federal gun charge in November 2006 by a federal grand jury and pleaded not guilty. He was released on $10,000 bail and remained free until his sentencing.

He changed his plea to guilty in October 2007 when he believed he faced a maximum sentence of 10 years. The next May, after his entire criminal history was learned and it became apparent he was facing a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence, Woodcock allowed McCurdy to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial.

McCurdy was found guilty on Dec. 31, 2008, by a jury after a three-day trial.

In sentencing McCurdy, Woodcock linked the defendant’s criminal record to his history of substance abuse, which dates back to McCurdy’s teens. The judge also admonished McCurdy for trying to get out from under the 15-year minimum sentence by accusing witnesses at his trial of committing perjury and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of prosecutorial misconduct in a letter sent to the court. McCurdy repeated some of his allegations at Monday’s sentencing.

“You have been saying that everybody is at fault but Mark McCurdy,” Woodcock said. “You are not the victim of your own crime.”

After the hearing, Casey called McCurdy’s accusations “absolutely baseless.”

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