BANGOR, Maine — A Brewer teenager described as a “hardworking kid” with “a big heart” by family members was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to nearly four years in federal prison for his role in the burglary and theft at an Orrington gun store last summer.
Tyler Damon, 19, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release when he completes his prison term. In addition, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock ordered Damon to pay a $2,000 fine and restitution of about $1,500 to two separate victims.
Damon, who has admitted to using illegal drugs since he was 13, apologized Wednesday for his actions.
“Since I’ve been incarcerated, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my actions,” he said. “I apologize sincerely to my victims. I recognize that what I was doing was not the life I wanted for myself.”
“Tyler is not stupid,” his uncle Chad Damon, 39, of Brewer told Woodcock shortly before the sentence was imposed. “He’s a hardworking kid. If he can learn a trade while he’s in prison, he’ll come out better for it. He’ll still be young when he gets out. If he gets going in the right direction, he will be a productive citizen.”
The judge recommended that Tyler Damon be sent to a facility that offered vocational training in plumbing. Members of the defendant’s family are plumbers, according to defense attorney Charles Budd of Bangor, who recommended the sentence Woodcock imposed.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Tyler Damon, who has no criminal history, faced between three years and 10 months and four years and nine months in federal prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy recommended the defendant be sentenced to one month less than the maximum sentence under the guidelines.
Woodcock warned Damon not to get involved with his co-defendants or friends with whom he used drugs but to turn, instead, to his family.
“I would encourage you to look at the people sitting behind you as your real friends and that you not fall back into the trap of alcohol, drugs and a bad crowd,” the judge said in handing down the sentence. “I would encourage you to follow the path of the people behind you.”
Damon was one of four men charged in connection with the theft of about 20 guns on Aug. 23, 2010. His cousin Corey Ryan Damon, 20, of Millinocket was sentenced in March in the same courtroom in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor to 14 years in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, Woodcock ordered Corey Damon to share restitution payments with his cousin.
Brandon Caparotta, 19, of Winterport remains free on bail but is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in federal court in Bangor.
All three men pleaded guilty to theft of firearms from the premises of a federally licensed dealer and possession of stolen firearms. The theft charge was related to the Orrington break-in. The possession charge stemmed from a burglary in Millinocket that Corey Damon admitted committing alone prior to Aug. 23. The cousins admitted they both possessed guns taken from both locations.
The fourth man, Robert Ryan Barker, 30, of Dedham was indicted in October by a federal grand jury on charges of possession of stolen firearms, making a false statement in a firearms application and possession of firearms and ammunition after being involuntarily committed to a mental institution after a gun found in his possession was linked to the Orrington burglary.
Barker pleaded guilty in January to the possession after committal charge. In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, the other two charges were dropped at his sentencing in May.
Woodcock sentenced Barker to 1½ years in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.
Each man faced or faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The Damons were arrested a few hours after the burglary on charges related to a stolen vehicle Corey Damon was driving. The pair was taken to the Penobscot County Jail, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Caparotta was arrested Aug. 26 for his role in the incident.
The owner of the Orrington gun shop was alerted to the burglary by barking from Buddy, the family dog. Don Barrett, who has operated the gun shop in the basement of his home on Mill Creek Road for 30 years, was awakened by the Jack Russell terrier at about 2:45 a.m. Aug. 23.
A few minutes later, he found the door to his shop open and three Winchester rifles on the floor. Barrett told police he saw a car and a truck leaving the scene.
While investigating the burglary, Maine State Trooper Christopher Hashey learned a truck had gone off Wiswell Road in Brewer. The truck, which was being driven by Corey Damon, was reported stolen from Corinth, and in the bed of the truck was a mini-bike reported stolen from Winterport, Woodcock said in sentencing Tyler Damon.
The cousins were trying to steal a motorcycle when they got the truck stuck, the judge said Wednesday.