AUGUSTA — A jury on Thursday convicted a Queens, New York, man of dealing drugs last year from an Augusta hotel room.

Kashawn McLaughlin, 26, of Queens, did not testify at the three-day jury trial at the Capital Judicial Center; but his girlfriend of 12 years did, saying she watched him sell drugs to Donna Lynnette Hall, 46, of Augusta, on Nov. 2, 2015, in Room 175 at the Senator Inn & Spa in Augusta.

McLaughlin, then-girlfriend Porchia Woodard and Hall were among six people arrested that day by Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officers who had the room under surveillance for several hours before executing a search warrant there.

McLaughlin initially was charged with aggravated trafficking in cocaine base and aggravated trafficking in heroin. However, the latter charge was reduced to unlawful trafficking, which carries a lesser jail term.

Justice Michaela Murphy ordered McLaughlin held without bail and told attorneys to prepare sentencing memoranda for a hearing that could take place near the end of this month. She said she wanted them to include material about comparable sentences for this type of crime.

Five spectators watched the verdict delivered. Jurors had deliberated for more than five hours Thursday afternoon, returning the verdict about 6 p.m.

In closing arguments Thursday, the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Katie Sibley, said McLaughlin was “engaged in a commercial enterprise,” selling drugs in central Maine. She said he bragged about it in an unsigned letter intended for Woodard, who was held at the same jail, saying when he got out he would return to central Maine to sell more drugs and triple his money.

Sibley held up a clear plastic bag, telling jurors it contained cocaine base. She pointed to a table where other evidence was set out, including heroin, a clear glass Pyrex measuring cup and other plastic bags, asking, “Who does all this belong to? Kashawn McLaughlin.” She said investigators seized 100 grams of cocaine base, with more separately packaged, plus 60 grams of heroin.

In his closing argument, McLaughlin’s defense attorney, Jonathan Handelman, said the officers could not see into the hotel room so could not say that McLaughlin was selling the drugs.

“Ms. Sibley can have a desk full of crack cocaine and point to Kashwan McLaughlin, but it doesn’t mean it is his,” Handelman said.

Handelman also said three other people had pleaded guilty already to selling drugs in that room. Hall, also known as Donna Williams, pleaded guilty in August to two charges of unlawful trafficking and one count of violating condition of release and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. She also did not contest the forfeiture of $12,188 in cash and two firearms seized in Nov. 2, 2015, raid on the hotel room.

In June 2016, Tymell R. Waters, 31, of Manhattan, New York, pleaded guilty at the Capital Judicial Center to unlawful trafficking in cocaine base. A second charge, aggravated trafficking in heroin, was dismissed in exchange for that plea. He was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

Also in June 2016, Frederick Rogers, 32, of New York City, pleaded guilty in the same courthouse to unlawful trafficking and was sentenced to two years in prison. Handelman told jurors that investigators should have checked to see whose fingerprints were on the cup and the bags. He also said there were nine cellphones in the room when the six people were arrested, and that it did not appear the phones were searched.

“We heard nothing about texts, calls, anything that would point to drug trafficking,” he said.

He said Woodard had much to gain from testifying, since she’s facing drug charges as well from that day.

“She’s sacrificing her boyfriend to buy her freedom,” Handelman said. The attorney told jurors of a volatile relationship in which Woodward was angry with McLaughlin for cheating on her with another woman and posting a video of her naked on social media. She said she once got McLaughlin arrested on a parole violation.

McLaughlin had been convicted of attempted burglary in August 2012 in Queens County Superior Court, in New York. He had been charged with burglary when he was one of 56 people arrested in a sweep in Queens that authorities said targeted narcotics and drug-based violence. A news release from the Queens District Attorney’s Office at the time described McLaughlin as “a purported high ranking member of the GOA,” an abbreviation for “Gang of Apes,” a street gang based in Far Rockaway, New York, and elsewhere in Queens.

Handelman said McLaughlin was a “lousy boyfriend” and a mooch who came to Maine to hang out with those doing drugs and to get a tattoo.

Woodard, 26, of Far Rockaway, was indicted in January on charges of aggravated trafficking in cocaine base and aggravated trafficking in heroin.

Another woman arrested at the same time, Davina Butler, testified she had ridden a bus to Maine twice within a few days — using tickets bought by McLaughlin — and expected to dance for him and his girlfriend for several hours. Butler said she worked as an exotic dancer in New York, earning $250 an hour dancing. Butler said McLaughlin threatened to kill her as they sat outside the Senator Inn & Spa shortly after they were arrested, and that he repeated the threat two months later in jail.

Butler, also known as Davina Abdusalan, 24, of New York City, was indicted on charges of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs with a firearm.

Handelman said Butler lied to jurors when she said she didn’t expect to get any consideration for her testimony, and that she was the one who had received money for bringing drugs from New York to Maine.

His client had “no money,” “no bling” and “no drugs on him” when arrested, Handleman said. Cash was found in several places in the room, including coats belonging to others, he said.

McLaughlin has been held for a year at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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