Caribou man gets nearly 4 years for smuggling oxycodone with dad

Posted Dec. 05, 2012, at 1:22 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 05, 2012, at 7:12 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Caribou man was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three years and 10 months in federal prison for smuggling oxycodone across the border.

Shawn Bernard, 30, was indicted in February by a federal grand jury along with his father, Charles Bernard, 69, of Caribou. They were charged with importation of controlled substances after three oxycodone pills were discovered on Shawn Bernard when the two men crossed the border on Aug. 31 at Fort Fairfield.

Both men pleaded guilty to the charge this summer. Charles Bernard is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 16.

Just before he was sentenced, Shawn Bernard apologized to his family and friends, although none of them were in the courtroom Wednesday. He told U.S. District Judge John Woodcock that his addiction got out of control after his mother’s death in 2010. His appendix ruptured the same year, nearly causing his death, he told the judge.

“I self-medicated and lived recklessly,” he said. “I regret the time not spent with my family.”

Woodcock told Shawn Bernard that he was not the victim of his own crimes.

“You live in Caribou,” the judge told him. “You grew up in Caribou. You are a resident of Aroostook County. You sneak drugs across the border and deal them to your friends in the community. You are engaging in an act of betrayal. By dealing drugs, you have caused untold misery and mischief and heartache to the people of Aroostook County.

“You involved your own father in your drug dealing,” Woodcock continued. “I can’t imagine it, Mr. Bernard. I can’t imagine what you did to your father. Your father will go to jail because of you. You should be ashamed and profoundly sorry for that.”

The younger Bernard admitted to smuggling oxycodone pills across the border about 100 times, bringing between five and 30 into Maine on each trip. His father drove the car because Shawn Bernard does not have a driver’s license and also to help his son feed his addiction to prescription painkillers, according to court documents.

Shawn Bernard’s attorney, Joseph Bethony of Bangor, said after the sentencing that his client was held responsible for bringing 500 20-milligram oxycodone pills across the border between January and August 2011.

In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Shawn Bernard to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine.

The maximum penalty for the crime is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, Shawn Bernard faced between three years and 10 months and four years and nine months in prison. If he had not violated his bail conditions, the son would have faced between two years and nine months and three years and five months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended the sentence the judge imposed. Bethony urged Woodcock to go below the guidelines.

Both men originally were freed on $10,000 unsecured bail. The son’s bail was revoked in May after he violated conditions. Shawn Bernard has been held without bail since then. That time will be applied to his sentence.

Shawn Bernard is facing charges of criminal trespass, operating after suspension and violation of a condition of release in state court in Aroostook County in connection with the incident that led to the revocation of his federal bail, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

In April, Shawn Bernard, while under the influence of drugs, allegedly refused to leave the porch of his former home in Caribou. The current owner called police and the younger Bernard drove away. He was arrested about two weeks later on the bail violation and is due in court Friday to resolve the charges before beginning to serve his federal prison term.

Charles Bernard was free on bail until Aug. 30, when he pleaded guilty to the drug charge. Federal law required that he be held without bail while awaiting sentencing.

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