Portland jury finds Windham man guilty of being “right-hand man” in pot smuggling operation

Posted June 14, 2014, at 12:52 p.m.
Last modified June 15, 2014, at 8:56 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A federal jury Friday found a Windham man guilty of being part of a conspiracy to bring thousands of pounds of marijuana from California to Maine.

Steven Olson, 23, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute 100 or more kilograms of marijuana. Jurors found at the end of the three-day trial that Olson personally was responsible for distributing less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, which means he faces a lesser sentence than if he were found responsible for distributing 100 or more kilograms.

Olson was described in court documents as the “right-hand man” to conspiracy ringleader David Jones, also known as Dave Kaos, 29, of Scarborough between August 2011 and September 2012. The two had a falling out after Jones was arrested in Kansas driving back from California.

Jones, who pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering charges in December, began the operation in 2011 by having marijuana shipped from Thomas Hicks, 52, of Diamond Springs, California, and others to different addresses in New England. Amy Eagleston, 31, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, collected the shipments and brought them to Maine.

“Olson would meet the person who was collecting the mailed marijuana and take possession of the marijuana, store and then later distribute it to others,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said in his trial brief. “Olson also collected drug proceeds on behalf of Jones and himself. Olson also traveled with Jones to California on several occasion when money was delivered to purchase marijuana and additional marijuana was purchased.”

Jones is believed to have smuggled about 5,500 pounds of marijuana worth millions of dollars across the country, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Perry.

A sentencing date for Olson, who faces up to 40 years in prison, has not been set. He is being held without bail.

Others who have been connected to the marijuana distribution conspiracy and have pleaded guilty to charges include Jones, Hicks, Eagleston, Raymond Paquette, 25, of Bangor, and Jones’ former attorney, Gary Prolman, 52, of Saco.

Prolman pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to launder money. He admitted Jones funnelled $177,500 in illegal drug proceeds through legitimate-seeming business deals.

The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday, the day the trial began, that investigators discovered Jones’ marijuana smuggling operation while monitoring wiretaps of phones owned by Robert Evon, 35, former owner of Port City Music Hall. Evon, 35, awaits sentencing in New York and arraignment in Maine on cocaine trafficking charges.

Evon has admitted in federal court in New York his role in shipping 78 kilograms — 171.6 pounds — of cocaine from California to Vermont hidden in soda machines, according to court documents. Jones purchased cocaine from Evon, according to the Portland newspaper.

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