A Phillips man was teaching others the dangerous process of manufacturing the narcotic methamphetamine in a home raided by police Monday, prosecutors said at a Franklin County Superior Court hearing and in documents filed in court Wednesday.
Bail was set at $15,000 cash for Michael Halle, 45, of Phillips, who rented the Rangeley Road house. Halle, who moved to the area from Florida last fall, has an extensive criminal record, according to prosecutors.
Jason Fowler, 39, of Chesterville, Erin Smith, 42, of Ocala, Florida, and Kimberly Webber, 25, of Vienna also were arrested on charges of trafficking the drug, following a joint investigation by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
Bail for Fowler, who was arrested last June for assaulting a state trooper and failure to appear, is $20,000 cash. Smith’s is $10,000 cash and Webber’s is $5,000.
If found guilty, the class B charge of trafficking schedule W drugs is punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and a $20,000 fine.
Halle’s bail was based on a history of fraud convictions and additional charges for negotiating a worthless instrument that are pending in Franklin and Somerset counties, Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins said at Wednesday’s court hearing.
Robbins said Halle’s criminal history dates back more than a decade, and primarily consists of fraud charges.
He argued that Halle taught the others to make the drugs and has few ties to the community, since he and Smith moved to the area in the fall from Florida.
Robbins said the operation Smith and Halle were charged with running out of their home was dangerous.
“The kind of cooking operating is very dangerous to the occupants and any first responders,” he said.
Halle and Smith were also told to consider surrendering their 13 dogs to the animal shelter or risk being charged restitution for the mounting cost of housing the animals.
The dogs, nine puppies and four older dogs, were placed in the custody of the Franklin County Animal Shelter following raids on what police said were two meth labs in the Phillips area.
Robbins said Wednesday at the four defendants’ initial appearance that the animals were seized from the house Halle was renting.
If the dogs are kept at the county shelter, the cost would be $25 each for the first day at the shelter and $10 each for each additional day. He said the owners have the option to surrender the dogs to the shelter so they can put up for adoption.
The investigation started several weeks ago, when police received a report from of a methamphetamine operation in Phillips. Several weeks into the investigation, Detective Ken Charles pulled Fowler over for driving with a suspended license.
According to court documents, “evidence of methamphetamine was present in the vehicle” and Fowler and Webber were arrested.
Court documents state Webber told police she bought manufacturing ingredients for Fowler.
Police and drug agents later went to Halle and Smith’s home on Rangeley Road in Phillips, where they seized items used to manufacture the drug. They found similar items in the car, including intact one pot labs, methamphetamine, lithium strips and a receipt from a purchase of Sudafed, which containes psuedoephedrine, which is used to make meth.