BANGOR, Maine — The Belfast man who six years ago gathered together the men involved in an “explosion” of cocaine trafficking and use in Waldo County was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge John Woodcock to 30 months behind bars.
“He nurtured at its infancy, a drug conspiracy that almost destroyed a community in Waldo County,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey said of Christopher Hurley, 30.
At least 11 people have been charged or sentenced in the Waldo County cocaine distribution ring, including Hurley and his brother, Matthew Hurley, 28, who met their now-convicted drug supplier while attending Wheaton College, in Norton, Mass., Woodcock said, recounting the case.
After meeting Bronx, N.Y., resident Ralphy Dominguez at college, the Hurley brothers began using cocaine and, starting in the summer of 2005, arranged for Dominguez to smuggle the white powdery stimulant into Maine.
“He was a drug dealer,” Woodcock said of Christopher Hurley. “He admitted he was a drug dealer.”
Christopher Hurley decided to travel to Europe in the fall of 2005, but before he left he put his New York coke connection in touch with locals who went on to create the cocaine ring that was in operation until busted by federal drug agents in 2009, the judge said.
The yearlong investigation was conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Mid-Coast Task Force, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Investigative assistance also was provided by the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Hurley brothers pleaded guilty in July to one count each of conspiracy with the intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams — more than a pound — of cocaine between Jan. 1, 2005, and March 20, 2009.
Matthew Hurley was sentenced in February to a federal prison for four years and eight months, and Christopher Hurley’s sentencing was postponed to allow Woodcock to determine how much cocaine he would be held legally responsible for.
In the Hurley brother’s plea agreements, federal prosecutors calculated both men had and sold 17 ounces of cocaine between 2005 and 2009, which was questioned by Woodcock because Christopher Hurley told the court he left the drug scene in late 2005 when he left Maine.
Woodcock said he was “mystified why a defendant would agree to a much higher” amount than what he otherwise stated, but went forward and sentenced Hurley based on the plea agreement.
Woodcock did recommend that Christopher Hurley be allowed to serve his time at the same Colorado prison that now is home to his brother.
Ever since leaving Maine in 2005, Christopher Hurley has basically been drug free and has been working in New York for the last few years, his attorney Jon Haddow said.
“While he’s moved on — a lot of people in Waldo County have not,” said Casey, who prosecuted the case. “While 30 months is at the lower range [of the sentencing guidelines] it’s still a lot of time. That would send a message to all the people of Waldo County that the court doesn’t forget.”
Hurley also addressed the court before Woodcock issued his sentence and apologized to his parents, his friends and his home community.
“I didn’t know how my actions could hurt others and my community,” he said, adding later that now “I’m painfully aware of all the negative impact of my actions.”
He ended by saying he has turned his life around since his days dealing drugs, and after serving his prison sentence will go back to living a full and healthy life.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m incredibly sorry for what I did,” Hurley said. “I won’t let it define my life.”