Bail denied to man accused of being one of Maine’s ‘most prolific drug smugglers’

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 04, 2011, at 12:44 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge Thursday denied bail to a St. David man described by a federal prosecutor as “one of the most prolific drug smugglers in Maine” for nearly 40 years.

Paul Corbin, 53, was arrested late Friday, Jan. 28, and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk said in a written decision that Corbin’s alleged ties to Canadian drug suppliers added to the risk that he would flee. Corbin also did not offer specific conditions under which he could be released, such as electronic monitoring or living with a third-party custodian who would be responsible for him.

Last week, investigators found more than 207 pounds of marijuana in a storage trailer owned by Corbin but located on property owned by a person not identified in court documents. At Corbin’s home, law enforcement officials found an additional 97 pounds of marijuana, 177 methamphetamine pills and $53,000 in cash, according to court documents.

In urging Kravchuk to deny Corbin bail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey cited concerns expressed by a law enforcement officials in the St. John Valley nearly 25 years ago.

Madawaska Chief of Police Ron Pelletier in 1986 was so disturbed about the lavish lifestyle Paul Corbin was living, he wrote a letter to a local prosecutor urging him to look into Corbin’s activities, Casey said during Thursday’s bail hearing.

Casey also said Corbin bragged to an informant in December that he’d been dealing drugs for 37 years.

The federal prosecutor said that for about two years investigators had been working with an unnamed confidential defendant who laundered drug money for Corbin in a bogus rental scheme. In 2007, Corbin purchased a $166,000 Volvo bucket loader with a $60,000 cash down payment, Casey said.

Corbin allegedly gave the confidential defendant $6,400 in cash “to rent” the bucket loader and the confidential defendant would write Corbin a check for the same amount. With that laundered money, Corbin made a $3,200 a month payment toward purchase of the bucket loader and showed $3,200 of “legitimate” income, the federal prosecutor said.

An analysis of Corbin’s finances by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Casey said, showed that between 1999 and 2007, Corbin paid his living expenses, which totaled nearly $304,000, with cash or money orders.

“That’s between $32,000 and $33,000 a year,” the federal prosecutor said.

Corbin’s attorney, Darrick X. Banda of Portland, argued that his client’s significant ties to northern Maine and his 17-year-old snowplowing business that cleared parking lots for businesses in the St. John Valley made him far less a flight risk than Casey described. Banda also said that Corbin had about $100,000 in equity in property he could post for bail and his only arrests had been on misdemeanor charges in the late 1980s.

“Given the circumstances presented to me I do not believe that there are conditions, financial or otherwise, that I could fashion that would properly address the risk of flight posed by these serious charges,” Kravchuk wrote in her four-page order denying bail.

Corbin’s next court appearance most likely will be after he is indicted by a federal grand jury later this month or in March.

Casey said Thursday that he expected additional charges would be lodged against Corbin.

If convicted, Corbin faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million on the charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/02/04/news/bangor/bail-denied-to-man-accused-of-being-one-of-maines-most-prolific-drug-smugglers/ printed on October 1, 2014