ROCKLAND, Maine — A 24-year-old Brewer man faces up to five years in prison after being convicted Wednesday of setting up two cocaine buys for a woman he was interested in, but who turned out to be a confidential informant for the state.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm found Isiah Roscoe guilty of two counts of unlawful trafficking in cocaine in a two-day jury-waived trial that began Tuesday in Knox County Superior Court.
Defense attorney Thomas Shehan had argued that the case was one of entrapment in which the state induced Roscoe to commit the crime by using a woman he knew and liked. Shehan said the informant beguiled Roscoe by calling him and asking if he could get her some cocaine.
“It was like using a deer call in hunting season,” Shehan said.
Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue, who prosecuted the case, countered, however, that this was not entrapment in that he was not pressured excessively to commit the crime. The informant simply called someone who she knew had drug connections and Roscoe followed through and coordinated the buys.
“He was an integral part of the deal. He was not badgered. He was not beguiled,” Bogue said.
Testimony during the trial showed that the informant, whose name is not being published at the request of police for fear of retribution against her, called Roscoe in October 2009 and asked if he could get her some cocaine. Roscoe had the informant, who was wearing a recording device, pick him up and drive him to the parking lot of KFC in Rockport for the first buy. At that transaction, the informant paid a third party $280 for the cocaine, according to testimony.
In the second transaction in November 2009, the informant drove Roscoe to the parking lot of the Village Variety convenience store in Camden. Roscoe got out of the car and brought back the cocaine and the woman gave him $280.
The man who provided the cocaine in both those instances — Adam Knowlton, 23, of Camden — already has been convicted and sentenced to three years in jail with all but four months suspended, according to court records.
Shehan expressed his dismay to the judge that the state spends millions on probation to try to keep people out of further trouble and then another state agency spends millions to get them to commit new crimes.
After finding the defendant guilty, Hjelm ordered Roscoe, who has been free on bail since his arrest nearly three years ago, jailed pending a sentencing hearing that will likely be held in March. The judge said he decided to have Roscoe held without bail because of a comment the defendant posted on Facebook on Monday night.
Bogue had earlier told the court that Roscoe posted for people to attend his trial so that they could see the “rat” who helped the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in the case.
Roscoe was placed in handcuffs by a court marshal after bail was denied. He hugged his mother before being led out of the courtroom.
The maximum sentence for a Class B conviction such as the two drug trafficking convictions is five years in jail.
Roscoe’s case is the final one to be heard that involved former drug enforcement agent Lt. Kirk Guerrette of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
Defense attorneys had tried to attack Guerrette’s credibility in 44 cases after they learned in 2010 that the former agent’s name had come up as part of a larger statewide probe by the attorney general’s Healthcare Crimes Unit. The director of that department acknowledged last year that the investigation ended in May without anyone being charged.
Defense attorneys had hoped to undermine the agent’s credibility as a witness in their cases, claiming that the investigation indicated Guerrette abused prescription sleep medication. Guerrette denied any wrongdoing and said last year that the conclusion of the state’s probe confirmed he did nothing wrong.
The issue was not raised at Roscoe’s trial.