SKOWHEGAN — A Norridgewock man whose gun tattoo elicited a police response and national attention in March has pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal possession of scheduled drugs following a separate incident in which he was arrested with drugs and a real gun.
Michael Smith, 41, was arrested June 13 in Madison with Suboxone strips, a narcotic used to treat drug dependence. He pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a charge of illegal possession of scheduled drugs in Skowhegan District Court, while a second charge of stealing drugs was dismissed as part of a plea deal.
As he walked through the court security Wednesday, Smith lifted his gray T-shirt to reveal the tattoo of a life-sized handgun tucked into his waistband that just months ago drew a police SWAT team to his house and put him in the national spotlight.
“I told them I just have one gun on me,” he joked before court was in session.
During the proceedings, Smith told District Court Judge Andrew Benson that he understood the charge against him and his rights.
He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all of which was suspended, a fine of $400 and one year of administrative release. Conditions of his release include no possession or use of alcohol or illegal drugs, that he is subject to random search and testing for drugs and alcohol, and that he enroll in and complete a substance abuse counseling program by Aug. 3, 2015.
Outside of court, Smith said he had no comment on the charges or his sentence.
According to a police affidavit, Smith was arrested outside the home of a Madison police officer with a backpack containing Suboxone strips that belonged to his former girlfriend, who had a prescription for them. The backpack was confiscated along with a knife and gun Smith was carrying after he told police that he had just had a fight with his girlfriend and wanted to hurt himself, according to the affidavit.
Before that, on March 18, Smith awoke to a SWAT team outside his door after his tattoo of a gun was mistaken by a tree removal crew for a real gun.
The crew from Lucas Tree Experts called police to Smith’s home, saying he had threatened them with a gun. Smith, who works nights, said the crew had woken him up around 10 a.m. and he had gone outside — without his shirt, displaying the gun tattoo — and yelled at them to leave.
He went back to sleep and was awakened by several armed officers asking him to come outside. No charges were filed in the incident, which police said was a misunderstanding.
The story went on to make national headlines and sparked debate on everything from gun rights and civil liberties to the police response and actions of the CMP contract workers.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368