BANGOR, Maine — The stepfather of a man who ran a drug smuggling ring from New York City to central Maine was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to 14 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.
Tyrone Pereira, 47, of Harlem, N.Y., pleaded guilty to drug charges in connection with the operation run by Maurice “Mo” McCray, 33, of Waterville.
Pereira was talked into bringing oxycodone to Maine by his wife, Robin Brown, who is McCray’s mother, but not paid to be a drug mule, U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock said.
Brown, 57, of Harlem, N.Y., was overcome with emotion in court last week when she was sentenced to two years in prison.
Pereira remained calm Thursday.
“I apologize for what I did,” he told Woodcock. “I am very sorry. That is all I have for words.”
They both pleaded guilty May 29 to one count each of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and oxycodone, as well as possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and aiding and abetting the same. Pereira and Brown had been held without bail since entering their guilty pleas.
Woodcock found that Pereira played a lesser role in the conspiracy than his wife did as she recruited couriers.
Pereira made five trips to Maine between Jan. 1, 2012, and March 17, 2012, and brought a total of 2,500 pills with a street value of about $38,000, Assistant Attorney General Joel Casey said Friday. He was arrested Feb. 28, 2012, at a Portland bus station with 334 oxycodone pills and then released. Two weeks later, he brought another 500 pills to Maine, the prosecutor said.
“He thought that he was being a good husband helping out his wife’s son,” Casey said.
Brown lost one son to gang violence in 1994 and was terrified she would lose another, Brown’s attorney, Bruce Merrill of Portland, told Woodcock last week in a passionate plea for mercy. She got involved to help her son pay off what he said was a large drug debt after she and her family were threatened.
Initially, Brown gave McCray her own prescribed oxycodone pills, Merrill said. As her son’s drug trafficking continued, Brown became more involved and served as a go-between for him with suppliers and brought oxycodone pills herself to Maine for him.
Pereira faced up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, Pereira faced between two and 2½ years in prison.
Casey recommended a sentence of 19 months due to Pereira’s limited role in the operation. Defense attorney Michael F. Vaillancourt of South Portland urged the judge to impose a sentence of one year or less.
McCray has pleaded guilty to distribution of a mixture or substance containing oxycodone and aiding and abetting the same. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million due to a prior felony drug conviction. McCray will be sentenced next year.