Florida man pleads guilty to mailing pills wrapped as presents to Maine

Posted Feb. 28, 2011, at 3:55 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 28, 2011, at 5:09 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Florida man admitted Monday in U.S. District Court that he mailed prescription painkillers wrapped as presents to post office boxes in Waldo County .

Raymond “Andy” Romero, 34, of West Melbourne, Fla., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance.

He and Vashti Ramcharitar, 30, of West Melbourne, Fla., the woman with whom he lived, were arrested on Oct. 10, 2010, near the home they shared. Ramcharitar, a native of Trinidad who is a permanent resident alien in the U.S., is pregnant with Romero’s child, according to court documents.

Ramcharitar has been indicted by a federal grand jury on the same charge to which Romero pleaded guilty.

Both are being held without bail in Maine, but information about which facilities they are being housed in was not available Monday afternoon.

A third person, Shannon Clark, 33, of Searsport also has been indicted for being part of the conspiracy.

Clark, who is free on personal recognizance bail, and Ramcharitar are scheduled to go on trial in April in federal court in Bangor.

The investigation that led to the trio’s arrest began in August in Waldo County, according to the prosecution’s version of events to which Romero pleaded guilty Monday. Local law enforcement officials set up a controlled buy of the prescription painkiller oxycodone from Clark in July.

After being charged in state court with unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs, Clark and her boyfriend, Marc Reaves, 33, of Searsport admitted they had been receiving prescription pills from his ex-girlfriend, Ramcharitar, and Romero. The Florida couple obtained the pill from a doctor’s office in that state who only accepted cash, according to court documents.

Reaves told investigators that he entered into the scheme so that Ramcharitar would have money to support their child, who lived with her mother in Florida, and so the mother would agree to allow the girl to come to Maine.

According to court documents, Reaves and Clark would receive a package sent from Florida by Priority Mail at Clark’s post office box in Searsport every two to three weeks. Each package contained between 50 and 100 tablets of prescription painkillers, including Percocet and oxycodone. Reaves and Clark sold the pills, then deposited half the money into a Bank of America account in Maine in Romero’s name.

Investigators set up a post office box in Belfast and instructed Reaves and Clark to have the next shipment of pills sent there. Phone calls and text messages between Reaves and Ramcharitar also were obtained by police and security videos that showed a man matching Romero’s description mailing a package from a West Melbourne, Fla., post office were viewed, according to court documents.

The state charges against Reaves and Clark were dropped earlier this year. Reaves has not been charged in federal court.

If convicted, all three defendants face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million. A conviction also could adversely affect Ramcharitar’s immigration status.

Information about when Ramcharitar’s child is due has not been released due to health care confidentiality laws.

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