BANGOR, Maine — A former Gray man pleaded not guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.
James A Sweeney, 27, who recently has lived in Arizona and California, according to court documents, was arrested June 4 in Texas. He appeared before a federal judge in Fort Worth before being brought to Maine by the U.S. Marshals Service.
The U.S. attorney’s office has asked that he be held without bail until his case is resolved. U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk scheduled a detention hearing for Thursday to determine whether Sweeney should be released on bail.
Sweeney came to the attention of law enforcement when a man, identified only by the initials C.S., was stopped on June 28, 2011, for a traffic violation on Interstate 44 in southwest Missouri, according to the affidavit filed in August in federal court.
Sweeney was indicted June 13, 2012, by a federal grand jury in Bangor on the charge to which he pleaded guilty Friday.
The Missouri traffic stop last year led to the arrest of Gerald Rich Jr., 47, of Frankfort, Maine, and Mark Wolosko, 46, of Kennebunkport after 375 pounds of marijuana was found in a 31-foot 2004 Coachman Freedom recreational vehicle owned by Rich. Sweeney is charged with being part of the conspiracy to transport hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Arizona to Maine.
Though Rich and Wolosko were charged with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, the charges were dismissed a month after their arrests at the request of the U.S. attorney’s office.
The operation came to light last summer when C.S., the driver of the RV, allegedly told agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that Rich had flown June 10, 2011, from Portland, Maine, to Phoenix, Ariz. Rich gave C.S. $1,500 in cash to pay expenses on the return trip to Maine, according to the affidavit.
Rich and Wolosko allegedly met the RV on June 14, 2011, in a Biddeford parking lot. Rich drove off in the RV and Wolosko drove C.S. home, according to court documents. Later that day, Rich allegedly paid C.S. $9,000 for making the trip.
C.S. again flew to Phoenix on June 26, 2011, and was stopped two days later in Missouri on his way to Maine, according to the affidavit. After he agreed to cooperate, two DEA agents joined C.S. for the remainder of the trip.
The RV arrived in Maine about 10 p.m. June 29, 2011, the affidavit said. C.S. met Wolosko, who was accompanied by a white female driving a car with a vanity plate that read “Wolosko,” in a Biddeford parking lot. C.S. got in the car and left with the woman while Wolosko drove the RV to 468 Loggin Road in Frankfort, according to the affidavit.
Since those events, two cooperating defendants have told investigators that Sweeney and Rich pooled their funds to purchase marijuana in Arizona through a connection Sweeney had in that state, according to the affidavit filed last August in Sweeney’s case. Until his arrest last week, Sweeney’s file was sealed.
Rich and Wolosko could face charges again for their roles in the marijuana distribution scheme, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
If convicted, Sweeney faces a minimum of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 40 years and a fine of up to $2 million.