ROCKLAND, Maine — A 35-year-old South Thomaston man will spend 20 months in prison after admitting Tuesday morning that a methamphetamine lab was being run at his residence earlier this year.
Paul A. Mahonen Jr. was sentenced Tuesday by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm during a hearing in Knox County Superior Court. The sentence was four years with all but 20 months suspended.
Mahonen will be on probation for two years upon his release and will pay a $400 fine and reimburse the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency $2,142 for its costs to clean up the lab when it was discovered in February.
Mahonen was arrested Feb. 26, a week after police had been to the residence and arrested another individual, Leonard “Lenny” Wells, 53, of Greenbush, who police said was a figurehead in the bath salts movement in Maine.
Officers reported in an affidavit filed in Rockland District Court in February that they had observed numerous people and vehicles stopping for short intervals at Mahonen’s residence on Route 131.
While there on Feb. 19, an officer spotted a mason jar with a residue on it. Mahonen was asked by police if it was bath salts and he said it was not, according to the affidavit. The officer took the mason jar and it was tested by the state’s drug laboratory and determined the residue was methamphetamine. Police agencies had also been receiving reports that meth was being seen on the streets in the Rockland area.
Officers returned on Feb. 26 with a search warrant and found equipment used to manufacture the drug, according to police. Mahonen was then arrested and charged with a Class A drug trafficking charge.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the defense and prosecution announced they had reached an agreement. Defense attorney Jeremy Pratt had filed motions to have the evidence seized by police ruled as inadmissible at any future trial because police had removed the mason jar without a warrant.
On Tuesday, Pratt said his client agreed to plead guilty to a lesser level drug trafficking offense and the agreed upon sentence in exchange for not contesting the seizure of the mason jar.
Pratt said while his client maintains another individual was manufacturing meth at the residence, he realizes that he could have been convicted of the more serious original charge as an accomplice. The original carried a minimum mandatory four years in prison.
Justice Hjelm said the 20-month sentence was a reasonable sentence, stating that methamphetamine was a dangerous drug.
“This drug has been so destructive in so many communities,” Hjelm said.