Ex-dealer says 2 of 3 defendants supplied him with marijuana in Township 37 pot farm trial

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, at 7:04 p.m.
Rodney Russell leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.
Kevin Bennett
Rodney Russell leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.
Malcolm French and his wife, Barbara, leave federal court in Bangor on Tuesday.
Malcolm French and his wife, Barbara, leave federal court in Bangor on Tuesday.
Winston McTague leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.
Winston McTague leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.
Kendall Chase leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.
Kendall Chase leaves federal court in Bangor on Monday.

BANGOR, Maine — A childhood friend of the son of a defendant in the Township 37 marijuana trial testified Thursday that between 2006 and September 2009 he regularly purchased marijuana from Rodney Russell.

Fai Littman of Bangor said that at least twice he got five pounds of marijuana from Malcolm French but paid Russell for it. Each time Littman purchased five pounds, the men gave him the pot in an Army surplus ammunition can similar to one found at the Township 37 grow site and in French’s home, he said.

French, 52, of Enfield, Russell, 50, of South Thomaston and Kendall Chase, 57, of Bradford are facing a variety of charges in connection with the marijuana plantation raid by police more than four years ago. Law enforcement officers on Sept. 22, 2009, spotted the 10-acre plot from a plane. Over the next three days, investigators seized nearly 3,000 mature marijuana plants valued at an estimated $9 million and found several burned out buildings.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was following up on an email tip sent by Winston McTague, 48, of Newport, who testified earlier this week that he grew pot with Chase in the early 2000s and with French in 2006 and 2007. Later, investigators tracked down the undocumented workers from Mexico who worked and lived at the site.

Littman, who was granted immunity by federal prosecutors, is the first witness to testify that he used a defendant as a wholesale supplier of marijuana. On Thursday, Littman did not say that he knew or bought marijuana from Chase.

He told the jury on the seventh day of the trial that he grew up in Bangor with one of Russell’s sons. He said that he met Russell through the boy, although Russell did not live with the boy and his mother.

The Bangor Daily News is not naming the son because he has not been charged with a crime in connection with the case and has not testified at the trial.

The Russell boy and Littman graduated from Bangor High School together in 2006, then were roommates when both attended the University of Maine. Littman said he earned his bachelor of science degree in business in 2012.

Littman testified that he started smoking marijuana about once a week when he was 12 or 13. By the time he got to high school, it was an almost daily habit. Littman began selling pot his senior year in high school to feed his own habit but did not have “a reliable source,” he told the jury.

Once he got marijuana from Russell’s son, but then he began dealing directly with Russell. At first, Littman said, he bought half a pound of marijuana every seven to 10 days and sold it in smaller increments.

“I gradually moved up to a full pound and eventually five pounds in 2008 and 2009,” he testified.

Littman said that he ordered the marijuana from Russell and paid him but sometimes would get the pot from Russell or French. He told the jury he paid $2,500 an ounce for “fresh, green Maine bud.”

In summer 2009, Littman said he went on a weeklong fishing trip to Canada with Russell, French and two other men who have been connected with the Township 37 marijuana grow — Scott MacPherson and Robert “Bobby” Berg.

MacPherson, of Wesley, was arrested the day of the raid, according to earlier testimony. He took his own life not far from the marijuana farm in February 2011, just days before he was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury.

On Jan. 7, the day before the trial began, Berg, 50, of Dexter, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to manufacturing 1,000 or more marijuana plants. By pleading guilty, Berg admitted that he knew about the pot plantation and hid the workers at his Corinth business, which imprints T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and other items.

Littman’s testimony is to resume Friday morning. Moises Soto, 53, of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, also is expected to testify about his role as overseer of the illegal workers.

The trial is scheduled to last another six to eight days.

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