A Phillips man will serve two and a half years for his role in a methamphetamine manufacturing operation found in his home.

Michael Halle, 46, was sentenced Friday in Oxford County Superior Court to six years in jail with all but two and a half years suspended and three years’ probation on the charge of class B trafficking in scheduled drugs. Halle is believed to have taught others how to make the drug, according to investigators.

Halle was one of four co-defendants arrested in July after police and drug agents seized supplies for manufacturing the drug from the home of Halle and co-defendant Erin Smith on Rangeley Road in Phillips.

Halle pleaded guilty to the charge last month under an agreement between his attorney, Curtis Rice, and deputy district attorney James Andrews. Under the agreement, the highest sentence he could receive would be eight years in prison with all but four years suspended and three years’ probation.

The maximum sentence for the class B crime is 10 years in prison.

Andrews said Monday that he argued for the higher sentence because of the danger in manufacturing the drug and of the serious effects of using the drug.

“This type of trafficking to the extent that he was producing is much more dangerous than other types of trafficking because of the danger of the manufacturing process,” said Andrews.

Andrews also argued that the short- and long-term health effects of using meth are more severe than other drugs controlled by the same statute.

He cited side effects of long-term use of meth such as confusion, insomnia, violent behavior, symptoms of psychosis and changes in the brain associated with emotion and memory.

Andrews said Mathew Cashman, supervising agent for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, gave a statement at the hearing about the recent rise of methamphetamine manufacturing in Maine.

In Maine, there were 16 meth labs dismantled in 2013 and 28 in 2014 along with seven “dump sites” where the toxic byproducts of the process were discarded.

“The trend is sharply upward,” said Andrews.

In a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court, Andrews stated that Halle told Cashman that he was making the drugs because he had fallen on hard financial times.

Halle has no prior drug convictions, but in the state’s sentencing memorandum, it noted that in August 2012, three months after his release from a Florida prison, he made 43 separate purchases of drugs containing pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients in meth.

In the memorandum, Andrews said the case had few mitigating factors.

Attorney Rice did not return a request for comment.

Co-defendant Smith, 43, who was represented by attorney Christopher Berryment, pleaded guilty on Dec. 5 to the class B charge and was granted a two-year deferred disposition. Under the deal, if Smith stays out of criminal trouble, undergoes substance counseling and abides by other conditions of the court, then in two years she will be able to take back her guilty plea. She instead would plead guilty to class D furnishing of a scheduled drug and receive a sentence of time served and a $400 fine.

Cases against defendants Kimberly Webber and Jason Fowler are still pending, and a jury trial has been scheduled to begin on Feb. 6.

Halle and the three others were arrested on July after police went to Halle’s and Smith’s home and seized items used to manufacture the drug.

The investigation started after police received a report of a meth manufacturing operation in Phillips. Several weeks into the investigation, Detective Ken Charles, of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, pulled Fowler over for driving with a suspended license. Charles said he found evidence of the drug in the car and Fowler and Webber, a passenger, were arrested. Webber allegedly told police she bought manufacturing ingredients for Fowler. Police and drug agents later went to Halle’s and Smith’s home on Rangeley Road in Phillips, where authorities said they seized material for making meth.

They found similar items in the car such as “one pot labs,” or small containers used to mix together the ingredients and make the drug.

The case was originally filed in Franklin County but was transferred to Oxford County because Justice Robert Clifford, who accepted the plea deal, normally does not work out of Franklin County.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

 

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