PORTLAND, Maine — Two Bath men being held at the Two Bridge Regional Jail in Wiscasset on robbery charges in connection with a “drug deal gone bad” were charged Friday with drug and gun crimes in federal court.
John Byrd III, 23, and Joseph Holland, 25, were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Byrd also was charged with possession of a firearm by an individual subject to a protection order while Holland was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Information on when they will make their first court appearances was not available Saturday from the federal court system’s electronic case filing program.
The charges stemmed from an incident on Aug. 13 in Bath when the duo allegedly attempted to rob a woman and her boyfriend of Vicodin instead of buying it as they had arranged, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.
The victims went to report the incident to the Bath Police Department but fudged the story a bit, saying they were trying to buy “a small amount of marijuana” from Byrd not sell him painkillers.
“Byrd confronted her about not coming alone and started saying, ‘Where’s my gun? Where’s my gun?’” the complaint said. “She said another person came out of the bushes and pointed a gun directly at [her boyfriend’s] head. She stated she was scared and ran away.”
A Sagadahoc deputy sheriff went to the house where Byrd and Holland were living, according to court documents, and hid in a neighbor’s yard so he could observe the comings and goings at the men’s residence. He allegedly heard people talking about a gun being stolen and the sound of a gun being cocked and dry fired, or, fired without ammunition in the chamber.
Officers knocked on the door in an attempt to arrest Byrd, but he would not come outside, according to the complaint. After an hour, Byrd and several other people, including two juveniles, came out of the house. Byrd was arrested.
While conducting a sweep of the residence, officers found Holland hiding inside and a .44 caliber, semi-automatic rifle.
Several days later, the woman admitted she had met Byrd to sell him Vicodin but left with it after the gun was brandished. She is not facing charges.
In a September telephone conversation with his girlfriend recorded at the jail, Byrd allegedly described the incident with the woman and her boyfriend as a “‘drug deal gone bad.’”
Byrd was prohibited from having a gun because the mother of his children had obtained a protection from abuse order, which is in effect until Aug. 6, 2012. Holland’s June 22, 2009, felony conviction for theft prevented him from possessing a firearm.
If convicted, both men face up to 10 years on the conspiracy and gun possession charges. The using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime count carries a mandatory minimum of seven years and a maximum of life in prison.