Man who traded gun for drugs sentenced to 10 months behind bars

Posted Aug. 19, 2011, at 5:07 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Matthew Carrier, who pleaded guilty on April 1 to being an addicted person in possession of a firearm, was caught speeding a month later, and that didn’t help his case when a federal judge sentenced him Friday.

“That’s a big mistake,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said at the beginning of Carrier’s sentencing hearing.

By breaking the law while out on bail, Carrier, who was caught in May going 96 mph — nearly double the speed limit — on Route 46 in Bucksport, sent a strong message that Woodcock said overshadowed the support offered by his loved ones in the courtroom Friday.

Carrier, 28, of Orland, who admitted to trading a Kel-Tec 9 mm handgun for two 80-milligram oxycodone pills in January 2010, was sentenced by Woodcock to 10 months behind bars, a $3,000 fine, three years of supervised release after he gets out of jail, and a mandatory $100 assessment.

His attorney, Joseph Baldacci, had asked for home detention.

As a convicted felon, Carrier — who is an avid sportsman and hunter — can never own or possess a gun again, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said.

“He’ll never be able to go moose hunting” or deer hunting again, the prosecutor told the court. “That is going to serve as a constant reminder” of his conviction.

Carrier’s sentencing is the final piece of a drug triangle that already has sent two others to prison, Casey said.

“Mr. Carrier has been a drug addict for a majority of his adult life,” Casey said. But Carrier’s life really went downhill in 2009 when he started using oxycodone, Casey added.

Carrier purchased the gun in October or November of 2009 and traded it about three months later to Timothy Varnum, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm in connection with narcotics trafficking.

Varnum admitted that in January 2010 he sold oxycodone to a cooperating witness working with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, according to court documents. He also admitted trading a gun to Charles Miles, 30, of Columbus, Ga., for drugs, and that he obtained the gun from Carrier.

Miles was sentenced last Sept. 29 to a total of 12 years in federal prison — seven for drug conspiracy and an additional five years for possessing the gun he got from Varnum.

Carrier’s mother, grandmother and employer spoke in court on Friday on his behalf. The defendant also made a short statement. “It’s been a weight on me for a year and a half now,” he said. “I want it taken care of.”

Woodcock said that Carrier has a wild streak — as evidenced by his criminal speeding in May — that he has to get under control.

“If you can’t control yourself, society will put you in a place that controls you,” the judge said.

Carrier, who is scheduled to be in court Friday, Oct. 15, for the speeding offense, remains free on personal recognizance bail. He must turn himself in to corrections officials by 2 p.m. Oct. 17, Woodcock ordered.

BDN reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this story.

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