Maine: Lewiston man sentenced in illegal pot conspiracy

Yahoo News reports

Nov. 4—PORTLAND — A Lewiston man responsible for maintaining operations at an illegal marijuana grow building in Lewiston in 2018 was sentenced this week in federal court for his role in a countywide drug-trafficking conspiracy and failing to pay taxes on his earnings.

Gregory Pelletier, 52, faced a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

He pleaded guilty to the charge in 2019.

U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal sentenced Pelletier on Tuesday to three years of probation and ordered him to pay nearly $40,000 in restitution to the IRS.

He was paid nearly $140,000 over the roughly three-year period he worked for the organization, prosecutors said. Moreover, he earned $60,000 in bonuses for his work, they said.

Pelletier and other workers were paid in cash, prosecutors said.

He was responsible for marijuana cultivation at a warehouse at 17 Bridge St., Lewiston, according to prosecutors.

The conspiracy operated in Androscoggin County from 2015 to 2018 under the guise of the Maine Medical Marijuana program, according to federal officials.

Federal agents served nearly two dozen search warrants at locations centered in Lewiston and Auburn in February 2018, seizing roughly $1.4 million in cash and more than 2,000 marijuana plants, according to court records.

Pelletier was found with $88,000 in cash, at least some of it from wages paid by the illegal organization, prosecutors said.

According to investigators, marijuana and its derivatives were sold in Maine and out of the state.

Pelletier was paid a weekly wage, plus bonuses for successful marijuana harvests, according to court papers.

The people who ran the organization failed to report to the IRS any wages earned by workers in the operation of the illegal sale of marijuana, including Pelletier, and failed to withhold any payroll taxes, prosecutors said.

Pelletier failed to file taxes in 2015 and filed a false tax return in 2016, according to prosecutors.

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