A Waterville man who appealed his status as an armed career offender and won saw his original 15-year prison term cut down to about three years.

Brian Thomas Mulkern, 37, was sentenced to time served at a re-sentencing hearing held Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Bangor.

He had pleaded guilty in August 2015 to being a felon in possession of ammunition, which he stole from a home in Winthrop.

In that break-in, Mulkern surprised a girl who was home alone and who called police before fleeing to a neighbor’s house.

He was caught by Winthrop police as he left the home carrying the stolen goods.

In the federal case, Mulkern had maintained he was classified improperly as an armed career offender, which resulted in the 180-month minimum sentence he received in Jan. 28, 2016.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him, vacated the sentence, and sent the case back to Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. for re-sentencing.

Woodcock, in a ruling leading up to the new hearing, said he planned to award Mulkern credit for the 17 months he was held in state custody on the Winthrop burglary charge prior to his guilty plea in federal court.

“The 1st Circuit Court decision very much paved the way for the outcome today,” said Jon Haddow, Mulkern’s defense attorney, after the hearing. “It was the key to getting the sentence down to this range.”

He described Mulkern as “relieved and grateful” after Tuesday’s hearing, and added, “I think he had expressed a serious desire to rehabilitate, and he had done some rehabilitation in the federal system.”

Haddow said both Mulkern and Woodcock referenced the original 15-year sentence as “a wake-up call.”

In the appeal, Haddow maintained that Mulkern had only two prior “violent felony” offenses resulting from two burglaries of dwellings that took place in 2001 and 2012, and asked the appeals court “to reject the government’s argument, and hold that the defendant’s (drug) trafficking conviction under Maine law is a non-qualifying predicate offense under the (Armed Career Criminal Act).”

That act allows for longer sentences for felons who commit crimes with firearms if they have been convicted of “violent felony” crimes three or more times.

The government, through Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret D. McGaughey, argued in a filing with the appeal that Mulkern was “the very type of person the AACA was designed to punish: someone who continued to commit drug or violent crimes.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark, who serves as spokesman for the office, said, “We’ve said what we’ve got to say in the pleading,” and that there would be no other comment.

Mulkern’s new sentence places him on three years’ supervised release.

Haddow said he and Mulkern both anticipate that Mulkern will be returned to state custody shortly to finish serving a six-year state sentence Mulkern received on April 13, 2016. Mulkern had been convicted in Kennebec County court of a burglary and two thefts, which occurred in August 2014 in Winslow.

That six years was to run concurrent with the federal sentence.

Mulkern has been held most recently in the Somerset County jail.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams