BANGOR, Maine — A Holden man pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug and gun charges in U.S. District Court.
Nicholas R. McDonald, 33, was arrested in April after a traffic stop in Holden. A safe with drugs and a gun in it was found in the car in which he was a passenger. He was been held without bail since then.
McDonald entered a conditional guilty plea to one count each of possession with intent to distribute heroin and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The plea allows his attorney, Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor, to appeal the denial of a motion to suppress the drugs and gun because the stop of the vehicle was allegedly illegal. The appeal will be filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston after McDonald is sentenced, according to Tzovarras.
A sentencing date has not been set.
McDonald and Amy White, 36, a transient who was driving a car that allegedly contained stolen construction equipment, were stopped April 5 on Copeland Road in Holden, according to a previously published report. McDonald took off on foot but was found hiding in the woods by a Maine State Police trooper and a search dog.
McDonald has planned to go to trial, according to a previously published report, but changed his mind after a forensic report that stated his DNA matched DNA found on the gun and the safe was shared with the defense.
At the trial, a Penobscot County sheriff’s deputy was expected to tell the jury that McDonald apparently passed a clear plastic bag filled with small packets containing heroin while at a local hospital for observation after his arrest, according to trial briefs. McDonald tried to grab the bag from the deputy and the officer needed help from hospital staff to keep the defendant from swallowing the bag.
White, who was granted immunity in the federal case, was expected to testify at McDonald’s trial that she gave him rides to Massachusetts to pick up heroin and helped him make deliveries in Maine in exchange for heroin and gas money, according to court documents.
McDonald faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $2 million on the drug charge. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the gun charge.