PORTLAND — A federal judge sentenced a Vermont man Wednesday to three years of probation and fined him $10,000 for buying a kilo of marijuana in Lewiston to distribute to friends in Vermont.

Charles Caliri, 71, of Woodstock, Vermont, told U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal he was “ashamed” and “humiliated” and that he had “no excuses” for his actions.

“I broke the law and I’m guilty of that,” he said.

Caliri had been charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He pleaded guilty in July.

He said he suffers from anxiety and hasn’t slept well over the past year since he was charged with the Class D felony.

Rather than buying his pot in Vermont legally, he said he’d hoped to save some money by coming to Maine.

“I will never, ever do it again,” he told the judge. “It’s been a rude awakening.”

Judge Singal told the time-share salesman that just because he was aware that others had done something similar, didn’t make it right.

“Everybody does it” and “It’s a stupid rule” are childish sayings, Singal said. “We have to set an example for younger people,” he said, noting the defendant was around his age.

Singal said Caliri had been “dumb” by making a deal “with a bunch of criminals” and that by giving them money, he was assisting them to “do worse things.”

His attorney, Peter Rodway, told the judge that marijuana has become widely accepted in society and increasingly legalized throughout the country.

“I guess that’s what bootleggers were saying when they were prosecuted under federal law” during Prohibition, Singal said, adding most states have not decriminalized the drug.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Joyce wrote in court papers that a car with Vermont plates was spotted leaving the Sabattus Street home of Richard “Stitch” Daniels in February 2018. A Maine State Police trooper stopped the car in New Gloucester. Police found a “distributable amount” of marijuana and $18,000 in the car.

Daniels, who was charged after a Feb. 27, 2018, raid in the Twin Cities area by drug agents and police that ensnared more than a dozen suspects, including businesses, is expected to plead guilty to drug charges next week in federal court.

Joyce wrote that a drug trafficking organization cultivated marijuana at numerous locations in Androscoggin County under the guise of Maine’s medical marijuana program, including sales to out-of-state customers. The organization also grew marijuana for making butane hash oil illegally. Daniels was a member of the group that was distributing marijuana illegally, Joyce wrote.

Federal drug agents visit a home on Sabattus Street in Lewiston in February 2018 in connection with a marijuana distribution and manufacturing investigation. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal file photo


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: