BANGOR, Maine — A Gorham man was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three years and seven months in federal prison for his part in a marijuana-smuggling operation that stretched from Canada to New Hampshire.
John “Scooch” or “Scoochy” Pascucci, 52, also was sentenced to six years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered to pay a forfeiture of $25,000.
Pascucci was the last of seven men sentenced for being part of the drug distribution ring run by Michael Pelletier, 53, of St. David. The Gorham man admitted to being Pelletier’s Portland-area distributor from Jan. 1, 2003, until April 1, 2006, when Pelletier was arrested.
About 30 family members and friends attended the hearing Wednesday to support Pascucci. His wife, Debra Pascucci, and daughters, Erica Pascucci and Jeanna Pascucci, urged U.S. District Judge John Woodcock to be lenient.
“He’s my best friend. I’m totally lost without him,” Debra Pascucci told the judge as she wept.
His daughters described a man who was not just loving and supportive of them and their brother, who lives in California and could not attend the sentencing. He also was a surrogate father to their friends in the West End section of Portland, where they lived before moving to Gorham five years ago.
“My dad taught me the value of family, something that was missing from his early life,” Erica Pascucci told Woodcock. “He still calls to check up on us.”
Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, Pascucci faced between 3½ and 4½ years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey recommended that the judge sentence Pascucci to 4½ years in prison because he waited until the eve of his trial to plead guilty, because of his long involvement in the conspiracy and because Pascucci lied during a suppression hearing.
Defense attorney Karen Wolfram of Portland urged Woodcock to go outside the federal sentencing guidelines and send Pascucci to prison for less than 3½ years.
“It seems to me, you’re a pretty complicated man, Mr. Pascucci,” Woodcock said in handing down the sentence. “You’ve created exactly the kind of family life you did not have. The presence here today of many people from Portland and Gorham and the many letters of support the court’s received indicates you have an unusual capacity for friendship.
“But I have discovered there’s another side to you that brings you to this court,” the judge continued. “It’s undeniable that you were a marijuana dealer in significant quantities for a long period of time. Unlike some drug dealers, you were not feeding your own drug addiction, you were simply involved in a business.”
Pascucci pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import marijuana on Jan. 12. He has been held without bail awaiting sentencing since then. That time will be counted toward his sentence.
Pelletier, who is serving a life sentence, was convicted by a jury in July 2007 on drug, money laundering and Social Security fraud charges. He received disability benefits due to a farm accident when he was 12 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Raymond “Rocky” Fogg, 56, of Winn and Anthony Caparotta, 44, of Caribou were convicted in June 2008 of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The jury also found Fogg guilty of Social Security fraud. Caparotta was sentenced in October 2008 to five years and eight months in prison. Fogg was sentenced in January 2009 to five years and three months in prison.
Three others — Jeffrey “Jeff the Plumber” Dubois, 44, of Manchester, N.H., and Ben Dionne, 29, and Michael Easler 28, both of St. David — pleaded guilty to drug and other charges related to their involvement in Pelletier’s operation.
Dionne was sentenced in May 2008 to 24 months in prison. Easler was sentenced in August 2007 to 12 years in prison. Dubois was sentenced in July 2009 to three months in prison and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Dubois received a lesser sentence because he cooperated with authorities and testified against Pelletier and others.