BANGOR, Maine — An Aroostook County man described by a federal prosecutor as “one of the most prolific drug smugglers in Maine” for nearly four decades was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to eight years in prison on drug and money laundering charges.
Paul Corbin, 55, of St. David pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
By pleading guilty, Corbin admitted that between 2005 and 2010 he conspired with others to distribute more than 837 pounds of marijuana and to launder more than $165,000 of the proceeds of the drug trafficking conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Although Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, who prosecuted the case, has said that Corbin’s marijuana smuggling operation lasted much longer, the statute of limitations in federal cases is five years.
“Mr. Corbin, you must have seen this day coming for a long, long time,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock told Corbin shortly before imposing the sentence. “You know because you’ve lived your whole life in the St. John Valley that there are no secrets in the St. John Valley. And it has been no secret that you have been a marijuana dealer for many years.
“You are now 55 years old,” the judge continued. “You’ve been playing a young man’s game for a long time. It’s time, Mr. Corbin, for you to stop. It’s past time to stop.”
In imposing the sentence, Woodcock said he wanted to send a strong message to St. John Valley residents that the kind of illegal activity in which Corbin engaged would be punished harshly.
“I am confident that the sentence I issue today will resonate throughout the St. John Valley and deter other Paul Corbins from following in your footsteps,” the judge said.
More than half a dozen family members attended Corbin’s sentencing to support him. His sister, Joan Corbin of West Hartford, Conn., described her brother as a “good person with a big heart.” Paul Corbin wept as she spoke about how he helped her get back on her feet after being laid off from her job about 12 years ago.
Corbin, who had two legitimate businesses — snowplowing and gravel sorting — through which he laundered his drug money, apologized to the court, the prosecutor, investigators and his family. He asked to be sent to a federal facility where he could obtain vocational training.
“I’ve made some really bad choices and dishonored my family,” he told Woodcock. “I hope when my time is served to do the same type of work to show I can earn my money legally.”
Corbin has been held without bail since his arrest in January.
In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Corbin to four years of supervised release.
As part of the plea agreement, Corbin also agreed to forfeit to the government more $105,000 in cash, a property on the Sawmill Road in Madawaska, a bucket loader, bulldozer, dump truck, snow bucket, pickup truck and 16 guns.
Corbin faced up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, he faced between seven years and three months and nine years in prison.
Defense attorney Daniel G. Lilley urged the judge to sentence Corbin to the bottom of the guideline range. Casey recommended Corbin be behind bars six months longer than the sentence Woodcock imposed.