‘Classic middleman’ sentenced to 15 years for role in crack cocaine ring

Posted Aug. 20, 2013, at 3:31 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 20, 2013, at 4:40 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A “classic middleman” was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to 15 years in federal prison for his role in a crack cocaine distribution ring that operated in 2011 out of a pair of Ohio Street apartments.

Ed Cogswell, 48, of Orono also was sentenced to five years of supervised release after his incarceration.

He had been held without bail since his conviction. Before the trial, he was free on $10,000 unsecured bail.

Cogswell and Manuel “Fish” Trinidad-Acosta, 29, of New York City were found guilty Jan. 31 by a jury on one count each of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base. Trinidad-Acosta also was found guilty of one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

Trinidad-Acosta was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison — 15 on the drug conspiracy conviction followed by a mandatory five years on the gun charge.

In sentencing Cogswell, Woodcock described his role in the conspiracy as “the classic middleman” who connected out-of-town drug dealers with local addicts.

Cogswell’s potential sentence was increased because he traded a gun for drugs and wrote a letter to a co-defendant threatening to kill a man who had testified against him after he completes his prison term. The man is not being named by the Bangor Daily News because he has not been charged with being part of the conspiracy.

Woodcock quoted the letter as saying: “‘My people are going to love hanging him up and setting him on fire. He’s not even going to get the mercy of a bullet.’”

Cogswell submitted an affidavit admitting that he wrote the letter but said he did not intend to carry out what was described in the letter.

“The court views this as a most serious threat,” Woodcock said. “The subtext here is that [the witness] is African American and Mr. Cogswell is white. To threaten to lynch and burn [the witness] is especially concerning in light of the country’s racial history.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Feith of Concord, N.H., who prosecuted the case recommended the sentence imposed even though under the federal sentencing guidelines, Cogswell’s recommended sentence was between nearly 22 years and more than 27 years in prison.

“It is the government’s understanding that Mr. Cogswell and Mr. Trinidad-Acosta had different jobs in the conspiracy, but their involvement in the conspiracy was similar in the length of time each was involved and their importance to the conspiracy.”

Both men were involved from the beginning, with Trinidad-Acosta working as a middleman between Dawlin “Boss Man” Cabrera, 30, of New York City, who ran the operation, and local users and dealers, including Cogswell, the prosecutor said.

Cogswell’s attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, urged Woodcock to sentence his client to between five and seven years. Tzovarras said that despite the jury’s verdict, Cogswell maintained that he was a customer, not a dealer, and was not part of the larger conspiracy even though he was living at one of the Ohio Street apartments when it was raided on Nov. 2, 2011.

Tzovarras also said that while he was on bail, Cogswell was clean and sober.

Cabrera, who pleaded guilty to the drug conspiracy charge and cooperated with the prosecution, was sentenced in June to 10 years in federal prison.

He is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ Inmate Locator website. Trinidad-Acosta is serving his sentence at the U.S. penitentiary in Canaan, Penn.

More than a dozen people were charged in federal court in connection with the operation. Most of the other defendants either have pleaded guilty or been convicted by juries in separate trials and were on the prosecution’s witness list.

The ring operated between Sept. 4, 2010, and Nov. 4, 2011, under the name the Beer Factory Corp., according to court documents. Callers would refer to crack cocaine and powder cocaine by using the code words, “Heineken” and “Coors Light” respectively, according to court documents.

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