BANGOR, Maine — The arrest of a 26-year-old local woman Thursday in the state’s biggest federal bath salts bust to date leaves federal agents seeking one suspect from the list of 14 people indicted in July, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said on Friday.
“There is one sealed defendant yet to be arrested,” Casey said after Elizabeth P. Mikotowicz of Bangor made her first court appearance.
Mikotowicz was located in the parking lot of Manna Ministries on Main Street shortly before 4 p.m. by Bangor police and Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officers, according to Bangor police Sgt. Kevin MacLaren.
She was charged under federal law with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances in connection with a bath salts distribution ring that allegedly operated in the Bangor area between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2011, Casey said. The Bangor woman faces a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a $2 million fine or both, if convicted.
Mikotowicz, who is no stranger to police, appeared Friday before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk. The judge appointed Portland attorney J.P. McGrinney as Mikotowicz’s counsel and ordered that she be held in jail until her bail hearing and arraignment, which are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13.
Mikotowicz was convicted of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs in March and was sentenced to six months in jail with all but 60 days suspended, according to court listings in the Bangor Daily News. In July 2011, Mikotowicz also was among four people arrested as Brewer police and drug agents raided a Brewer motel, BDN archives state.
She is one of 14 people indicted in July by a federal grand jury for alleged conspiracy two years ago to distribute MDPV, also called bath salts. The drug is known to cause paranoia, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users. It can also cause death.
The 12th person arrested, Michael “Bub” Tardiff of Old Town, was taken into custody in August. Kravchuk also ordered Friday in U.S. District Court that he be held without bail pending resolution of the case.
Tardiff, 53, pleaded not guilty to one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and using or maintaining a drug-involved place at 49 Loonie Loop in Old Town.
Jessica Bryden, 20, of Greenbush was arrested Aug. 9 and denied bail a week later. She pleaded not guilty to the same charges as Tardiff and was ordered detained, Casey said.
Steven Orosco, 23, of Orrington was arrested Aug. 16. He pleaded not guilty to the drug conspiracy charge. Orosco was released Aug. 19 on $5,000 unsecured bail.
Nine others accused of taking part in the 2011 conspiracy to distribute bath salts in the Bangor area have been arrested. All but five have been released on unsecured bail with a condition the defendants not have contact with each other, among other conditions.
Ryan Ellis, 32, formerly of Greenbush and Dover-Foxcroft, also known as “Dude,” “Calvin” or “Piles,” has pleaded not guilty to four counts — conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance, using or maintaining a drug-involved residence in Old Town with Bryden and Tardiff, unlawful use of a controlled substance, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
Ellis was living and working in Piscataquis County when he was arrested on the federal charge Aug. 6, according to a previously published report. He was on community release from the Charleston Correctional Facility, serving a three-year state sentence on a drug charge, when he was indicted on the federal charges. He chose to return to the state prison to complete his sentence on the state charge rather than be held without bail on the federal charge.
Alan Ketchen, 40, formerly of Bangor, who is known as “AJ” or “Hobbes,” pleaded not guilty to the drug conspiracy charge and an additional charge of using or maintaining a drug-involved residence at 10 Blackstone St. in Bangor to deal bath salts.
Ketchen is being held without bail on the federal charge until his case is resolved, Casey said.
Tina Keaton, 32, of Bangor, also known as “Fumble”; Jamie Lewis, 37, formerly of Bangor, now of New Hampshire; Jacob Gagnon, 24, formerly of Bangor and now of Van Buren, also known as “Jake the Snake”; April Kane, 28, of Gorham; and Gina Nelson, 30, of Bradley have been released on bail. All pleaded not guilty to the drug conspiracy charge.
Daniel Hines, 37, of Orrington and Adam Hathorn, 35, of Bangor are being held without bail on the drug conspiracy charge, according to previous reports. Both have pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, defendants charged in the alleged drug conspiracy face up to 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine. In addition, Ellis, Ketchen, Bryden and Tardiff face up to 20 years and fines of up to $500,000 for maintaining drug-involved premises if convicted on that charge.
On the gun charges, Ellis faces up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for possessing a firearm while using drugs and between five years and life to be served consecutively to any sentence on the conspiracy charge for carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
BDN reporters Judy Harrison and Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this story.