Last man arrested in federal bath salts case is first to plead guilty

Posted Jan. 27, 2014, at 5:28 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — One of the 14 defendants charged in U.S. District Court in connection with a bath salts distribution ring that allegedly operated in 2011 pleaded guilty Monday to a drug conspiracy charge.

Matthew Tardiff, 25, of Old Town, was the last person arrested but the first to enter a guilty plea. By pleading guilty, Tardiff admitted that between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2011, he was part of a conspiracy to buy and distribute bath salts in Greater Bangor, according to the prosecution version of events.

So far, no dates have been set for other defendants to enter guilty pleas or to stand trial.

Tardiff and 13 others were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2013 in connection with an alleged conspiracy to distribute MDPV, also called bath salts, in 2011. The drug is known to cause paranoia, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users.

The number of defendants indicted appears to make this the largest bath salts conspiracy case prosecuted by the Maine U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock ordered Monday that Tardiff continue to be held without bail. Tardiff agreed to be held without bail at his first appearance in federal court on Sept. 24.

Tardiff first was arrested in August 2011 at the trailer where he lived in Old Town. Police went to the Regency Trailer Park after receiving a tip that drugs were being dealt out of Tardiff’s residence, according to a previously published report.

He was convicted in February 2012 in state court of unlawful trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs and ordered to pay a $400 fine, according to court listings printed in the Bangor Daily News.

Last summer, he was indicted in federal court on one count each of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and using or maintaining a drug involved place. In exchange for Tardiff’s guilty plea to the drug conspiracy charge, the second charge is expected to be dismissed at sentencing.

In his plea agreement, Tardiff also waived his right to appeal the sentence to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if it is four years or less, according to court documents.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, according to court documents.

Although similar behavior appears to have led to Tardiff being charged in state court in 2011 and federal court in 2013, the Constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy does not apply because the charges are not the same and were lodged under different jurisdictions — one state, the other federal.

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