FARMINGTON — An attorney for a local man accused of being a leader in an illegal marijuana grow and distribution and money laundering operation said it is indisputable that his client ran a legal licensed cannabis distribution business.

“One of the main issues in this case is the tension between federal law and laws of the state of Maine,” Attorney Timothy Parlatore of New York, who represents defendant Lucas Sirois, 41, of Farmington, said Thursday. “We intend to move for an injunction based on the Rohrabacher Farr Amendment and the federal appropriation bills.”

It has been the law since 2014.

“While marijuana is illegal federally, Congress has prohibited the Department of Justice from expending funds interfering with a state’s medical marijuana law implementation. So because of that we will be moving for an injunction from prosecuting Luke for his actions in according to Maine law,” Parlatore said.

Sirois is one of 12 defendants charged in connection to an illegal marijuana grow and distribution operation, some of them implicated in a drug money laundering scheme in the Franklin County area. He and five others made initial appearances on Thursday before Judge John Nivison in the U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Sirois is on a $500,000 secured bond.  If he does not appear in court in the future he has agreed to forfeit vehicles listed in a pretrial services report not available to the public, according to federal court documents.

He and his alleged co-conspirators are accused of realizing in “excess of $13 million over a six-year period through the illicit sale of marijuana,” according to a release from the U.S. Attorney Attorney’s Office.

The federal court rules provide 30 days from the issuance of a summons for a case be considered for indictment by a federal grand jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Joyce said.

Sirois allegedly “structured his operations to appear as though they complied with Maine’s medical marijuana regime while he regularly sold bulk marijuana on the illicit market, including more than $1 million worth of marijuana for out-of-state distribution between 2018 and 2019 through codefendant Brandon Dagnese, 27, of Scarborough, a convicted felon who is ineligible to hold a care giver card in Maine,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office release.

Former Rangeley Selectman David Burgess of Rangeley, Wilton police officer Kevin Lemay, 33, of Farmington, former Oxford County Deputy James McLamb, 29, of Auburn, and former Franklin County Deputies Bradley Scovil, 33, of Rangeley and Derrick Doucette, 29, of Jay, all appeared in court on Thursday. They are on personal recognizance bonds.

Sirois’ father, Robert Sirois, 68, of Farmington, Lucas Sirois’ estranged wife, Alisa Sirois, 43, of Kingfield, Ryan Nezol, 38, of Farmington, Kenneth Allen, 48, of Farmington, Dagnese, and Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Kayla Alves, 36, of Farmington are scheduled to appear Friday in federal court in Bangor.

All three Siroises, Burgess, Scovil, Doucette, Dagnese and Nezol are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Burgess, Lucas Sirois and Alisa Sirois are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud. Lucas Sirois and Burgess are charged with conspiracy to commit honest service fraud. Lucas Sirois is charged with a second count of conspiracy to commit honest service fraud and Scovil, Doucette and McLamb are charged with one count of it. Lucas Sirois, Scovil, Doucette and Burgess are also charged with bank fraud. Alves is charged with tampering with proceeding and tampering with documents. Lemay and McLamb are charged with tampering with documents. Lucas Sirois, Burgess and Allen are charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and impede and impair. Lucas Sirois is also charged with tax evasion and Allen is charged with tax fraud.

Randal Cousineau, 69, of Farmington waived indictment and pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court to conspiring to possess and distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 1,000 plants. The release claims he was the primary financier and 50% partner with a co-conspirator in an illegal marijuana cultivation facility in Farmington. He also held an interest in the an illegal marijuana distribution company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Upon the conviction of the offense, he is to forfeit all real property and assets held through Sandy River Properties LLC, to include the real property and all fixtures and accessories located at 374 High St. in Farmington, all real property and assets held through Lakemont LLC, all funds on deposit totaling $407,530.56 held in the names of Lakemont, Narrow Gauge Distributors Inc. and Sandy River Properties at Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union in Farmington.

Both Lucas Sirois and Cousineau signed the application as owners of the Narrow Gauge Distributors building for a marijuana business in Farmington. Lucas Sirois and Cousineau are members of Lakemont LLC, according to information on the application for an adult-use marijuana cultivation and manufacturing business.

Scovil and Doucette are accused of obtaining confidential law enforcement information for Lucas Sirois that he allegedly used to “benefit his illegal business.” In exchange, Sirois allegedly “rewarded Scovil and Doucette with ownership interests in his business and brand new ‘company’ cars,” and used the former deputies’ network of active law enforcement officials to obtain information about the ongoing federal investigation into his criminal activity, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The two deputies left the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in the fall of 2019, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. wrote in an email Thursday. He did not become aware of the investigation until the summer of 2020.

The former Narrow Gauge marijuana cultivation facility Thursday on High Street in Farmington. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Alves’ attorney, Walter McKee of McKee Law in Augusta, defended his client in an email.

“Kayla did not commit a crime. It is disappointing to see her dragged into all of this. She received all of nothing for the non-criminal things she did here. She is a respected prosecutor, a U.S. Army veteran who deployed to Iraq, and put herself through college and law school with three children. She is really an amazing individual. Let me tell you this will be no small fight,” McKee wrote in an email on Thursday.

According to an announcement by District Attorney Andrew Robinson, he has taken action to relieve her of her duties.

Alves allegedly “tipped off Scovil to the existence of the Sirois probe, after Wilton police officer Kevin Lemay, and then Oxford County Deputy James McLamb used government databases to confirm” for Scovil and Doucette that they were under surveillance by law enforcement, according to the federal prosecutor’s release.

Lemay, whose attorney was not available for comment, is out on administrative leave pending the investigation, Wilton police Chief Heidi Wilcox said in an email Thursday.

Attorney Ronald Bourget of Augusta, who represents Alisa Sirois, said that Congress needs to address the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

Allen is accused by federal prosecutors of filing false income tax returns for Lucas Sirois.

The U.S. Attorney General’s Office “is attempting to enforce a 10 year mandatory minimum federal criminal statute under the Controlled Substances Act on the possession and distribution of marijuana notwithstanding the changed legal landscape. This circumstance cries out for Congress to address this injustice. This case cries out for a less antiquated approach to drug enforcement. The ‘war on drugs’ may still be on-going, but the white flag on marijuana was raised years ago,” Bourget wrote in an email.

“We have known about this investigation for a very long time,” Parlatore, who represents Lucas Sirois, said. They have been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“We have asked for a probable cause hearing for the week of Nov. 15,” he wrote.

The 96-page federal criminal complaint has two different things going on, he said. There are false claims made by a disgruntled former employee who was fired for committing criminal acts, he said.

The government also cherry picked comments gained through wire-tapping out of context, Parlatore said.

“As much as the government wants to portray Luke as breaking the law, the reality is he was very careful to ensure that he and others followed the laws,” he said.

Defense attorneys for other defendants were not immediately available for comment.

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