Nov. 20—BANGOR — A Farmington man denied federal felony charges Friday on behalf of three businesses he co-owns where marijuana was alleged to have been illegally grown and distributed.
Lucas Sirois, 41, who prosecutors allege to have been the leader of a broad criminal enterprise, appeared by videoconference in U.S. District Court in Bangor where he pleaded not guilty to charges of maintaining drug-involved premises against Lakemont LLC, Sandy River Properties LLC and Spruce Valley LLC.
Each charge is punishable by one to five years of probation and a fine of up to $2 million. If a business is sentenced to probation, the court may impose certain conditions on its operations.
Lakemont and Sandy River are located at 374 High St. in Farmington, a building known as the “Shoe Shop.” Spruce Valley is located at 105 Avon Valley Road in Avon.
The arraignment of the businesses comes on the heels of hearings Thursday for nearly a dozen co-defendants — including an elected town official, three former sheriff’s deputies and a police officer — in a case that alleges illegal marijuana growing and trafficking as well as a money laundering scheme in what prosecutors said was a wide-ranging conspiracy that grossed more than $13 million over six years.
Sirois pleaded not guilty to eight related counts against him in a 15-count indictment Thursday. He is free on a $500,000 secured bond.
On Friday, he told U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John. C. Nivison that he is half-owner of the three businesses charged in the indictment.
His attorney, Eric Postow, said Sirois has had the authority to speak for the businesses since their creation. Postow is co-counsel with Timothy Parlatore and Mark Dion representing both Sirois and the three LLCs.
Lakemont was established in 2016, Sandy River in 2002 and Spruce Valley in 2013, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.
The businesses were indicted on Nov. 9.
Postow told Nivison he is planning to file motions on behalf of each of the businesses to block federal prosecution under the so-called Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which passed Congress in 2014, effectively preventing the U.S. Department of Justice from spending federal money to interfere with states’ medical cannabis laws.
“What that means is that they’re prevented from prosecuting, in this case, the cannabis businesses, so long as those cannabis businesses were compliant with Maine law,” Postow said after Friday’s hearing. “We believe the evidence supports that these businesses were compliant with state law.”
Postow said that “if there was any nefarious activity somewhere in the universe of the businesses, it wasn’t at the direction of the business and it wasn’t at the direction of Lucas Sirois.”
Prosecutors allege in court documents there was a conspiracy to cultivate and sell marijuana in violation of Maine’s medical marijuana laws, selling bulk marijuana illicitly to people who were not registered as caregivers, and for distribution outside of the state.
Sirois is said to have structured operations to appear as though they complied with Maine’s medical marijuana regime while he regularly sold bulk marijuana on the illicit market, including $1 million worth of marijuana for out-of-state distribution between 2018 and 2019, according to court records.
Sirois pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances; conspiracy to commit money laundering; two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud; two counts of bank fraud; conspiracy to defraud the United States and impede and impair the Internal Revenue Services; and tax evasion.
As part of the broader case, Randal Cousineau, 69, has admitted in U.S. District Court to conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants.
Prosecutors agreed to recommend he not be sentenced to more than 63 months in prison for his part in the conspiracy.
Cousineau was part owner of the Lakemont and Sandy River businesses, according to court records.