BANGOR, Maine — Two Belfast brothers involved in what has been called a major cocaine distribution ring in Waldo County left a federal courtroom Monday handcuffed to each other.
One is headed to a federal prison for four years and eight months. The other will have to return to court to be sentenced.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock also sentenced Matthew Hurley, 28, to fours years of supervised release once he has completed his time behind bars.
Woodcock ordered that Christopher Hurley, 30, continue to be held without bail until it can be determined how much cocaine he is to be held legally responsible for.
The brothers pleaded guilty in July to one count each of conspiracy with the intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams — more than a pound — of cocaine between Jan. 1, 2005, and March 20, 2009.
Both Hurleys faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison because of the amount of cocaine attributed to the conspiracy and a maximum sentence of 40 years. In addition to prison time, the brothers faced fines of up to $2 million each.
Woodcock did not order Matthew Hurley to pay a fine. The judge also accepted a recommendation that the defendant’s sentence be less than the mandatory minimum of five years because he confessed when he was arrested. A federal judge may depart from a mandatory minimum sentence on the recommendation of a federal prosecutor.
In plea agreements with federal prosecutors, both men waived their rights to appeal their sentences to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if they are not behind bars for more than five years.
At least nine other people have been charged or sentenced in the conspiracy, according to court documents.
The Hurley brothers were indicted by a federal grand jury in September along with Phillip Kelley, 34, and Shawn Perito, 33, both of Belfast. Christopher Hurley and Matthew Hurley were arrested in November in New York City and Los Angeles, respectively, according to court documents.
Kelley pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge a few day after the Hurleys did last July. He was sentenced late Monday afternoon to three years and one month in federal prison, according to Kelley’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Bangor.
“Judge Woodcock decided that [Kelley] played a minor role in the conspiracy,” Smith said in a telephone interview after the sentencing.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Kelley to three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term.
Perito was sentenced in March 2011 to 10 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge.
Carlos Zamora, an illegal alien living in New York City, supplied large amounts of cocaine that were distributed by Bronx, N.Y., resident Ralphy Dominguez to dealers in Waldo County, including Christopher and Matthew Hurley, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The cocaine then was redistributed by street-level dealers.
In September, Woodcock sentenced Zamora to 14 years and four months in federal prison. He is expected to be deported to Mexico after completing his sentence. Dominguez, 24, was sentenced to five years behind bars.
Woodcock in July sentenced co-conspirator Jeffrey Emerson, 33, of Swanville to nine years in prison. In May, co-conspirator Richard Calligan, 33, of Searsmont was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison.
Three other Waldo County men have been sentenced in the case. Michael Dunn, 42, of Lincolnville was sentenced in January to three years and one month in prison, and Rodney Littlefield, 37, of Belfast was sentenced in April to two years and six months, both for distribution of cocaine. Nathan Dodd, 25, of Belmont was sentenced in October to 18 months in prison.
The yearlong investigation was conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Mid-Coast Task Force, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Investigative assistance also was provided by the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.