BANGOR, Maine — A Massachusetts man who three years ago tried to buy guns illegally at a downtown pawnshop that were to be used to protect a fledgling drug operation has been sentenced to 7½ years in federal prison.
Levar Carey, 27, of Brockton, Mass., also was sentenced last Friday after a daylong hearing in U.S. District Court to three years of supervised release. In May 2009, he was found guilty by a federal jury after a two-day trial of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Carey, James Damon, 22, of North Easton, Mass., and Christopher Riley, 25, of Brockton, Mass., were indicted in August 2008 by a federal grand jury for conspiring in October 2007 to make false statements in the acquisition of firearms, aiding and abetting the making of false statements in the acquisition of firearms and being felons in possession of firearms.
The men were prohibited from buying or possessing firearms because of felony convictions on drug and other charges in Massachusetts. They used Katrina Wickett, now 26 and living in Alton, as a “straw buyer” to purchase three guns from Frati’s Pawn Shop in Bangor, according to federal prosecutors.
In a press release Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office described the men as drug dealers from Massachusetts.
“Riley and Damon were attempting to break into the cocaine market in Bangor,” the press release stated. “Carey was a source of supply for Riley and Damon. All three men had extensive criminal records, including convictions involving drugs and firearms.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Torresen recommended that U.S. District Judge John Woodcock impose a sentence of 10 years in Carey’s case, the maximum allowed.
Carey’s defense attorney, Leonard Sharon of Auburn, argued for a lesser sentence.
“By listening [to Carey] and looking behind his actions, Judge Woodcock was able to see who the person before him really was,” Sharon said Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II praised Orlando Frati, owner of the State Street shop, for relaying his suspicions about the transaction to the Bangor police and testifying at Carey’s trial.
“Once again we see a Maine citizen who is concerned enough to get involved,” Delahanty said in the press release. “Efforts such as these, by ordinary citizens who care about their communities should be recognized and applauded.”
Carey faced up to 10 years in federal prison.
The conspiracy and aiding and abetting charges against Carey were dropped shortly before the trial. Damon pleaded guilty in December to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Riley, whose case was transferred to federal court in Boston and combined with a similar charge there, pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Wickett also pleaded guilty to violating federal gun laws.
All were sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Wickett was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. She was released in October.
Damon is serving a sentence of five years and 10 months at the Coleman, Fla., Federal Correctional Complex. He is due to be released in October 2013. Riley is serving a sentence of seven years and eight months at the Petersburg, Va., Federal Correctional Complex. He is scheduled to be released in June 2015.
Delahanty said Tuesday that he hoped the lengthy sentences handed down in the case would send a message to people who come to Maine to commit crimes.
“If you’re caught bringing drugs into Maine or taking guns out of Maine for criminal purposes, you will be dealt with severely,” he said in the press release.