Sean Rancourt, of Waterville, will spend a long time in prison for selling a drug to a longtime friend who, two hours later, overdosed and died in his bathroom.

It is a case officials are calling the first time in Maine that a drug a trafficker sold have been proved to have caused another person’s death.

Rancourt, 33, of Ticonic Street, Waterville, pleaded guilty Sept. 5 to aggravated trafficking of methoxyacetyl fentanyl Dec. 15, 2017, to Kevin Hubert, 35, of Village Green, Waterville, and was sentenced in Kennebec County Superior Court to 15 years, with all but eight suspended, and six years of probation, according to Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney on Wednesday attributed the success of the case to a persistent, diligent Waterville police detective, Duane Cloutier, and praised Waterville police in general for their work on drug cases.

“He does an excellent job; he really does,” Maloney said of Cloutier. “In my opinion Duane Cloutier is the reason we were able to get this conviction. He so carefully documented everything that we were able to make that clear connection between the sale of the illegal substance and the death of the victim.”

Massey said he thinks and hopes the case, in which the District Attorney’s Office also did a great job, will send a clear message to people that if they sell drugs to someone and that person dies, the trafficker can face up to 30 years in prison.

“It is the first that we know of in the state where we were able to show that the drugs that were sold to this individual actually caused his death,” he said. Maloney concurred.

“This is my belief as well,” she said. “I don’t know of any other time that this has occurred.”

Rancourt’s attorney, Walter McKee, said in an email Wednesday that his client “felt terrible that it was the single dose of drugs he sold to Kevin, his longtime friend, (that) caused Kevin’s death.”

“Both Sean and Kevin suffered from severe drug addiction,” McKee said. “Sean had no idea that the drugs that Kevin bought from Sean were so powerful that they would result in Kevin’s death. If he knew, he never, ever would have sold them to him.”

At 7:45 p.m. Dec. 15, 2017, Waterville police went to Village Green Road off West River Road in response to a report of an unresponsive male, Massey said. When officers arrived, they forced the bathroom door open to find Kevin Hubert on the floor and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until Waterville Rescue and Delta Ambulance arrived. Narcan was administered to Hubert, but he died, according to Massey.

Officers found needles in the bathroom that they suspected Hubert had used. They also found 0.3 grams of fentanyl in a small bag, he said. Cloutier arrived, took Hubert’s cellphone, worked to re-trace his actions the day he died and learned he had met someone at a local convenience store a couple of hours before his death, Massey said.

Cloutier went to the store, which had surveillance video showing Hubert meeting a man police later identified as Rancourt and buying the drug from him, Massey said. Cloutier got a search warrant for Rancourt’s phone and on Dec. 20 seized it, according to Massey.

“As a result of checking the phone, he was able to see text streams from Mr. Rancourt to Mr. Hubert most of that day, with conversations about Mr. Hubert purchasing drugs from him, so that was a great piece of evidence,” Massey said. “We were able to see the transfer of drugs and money.”

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on Hubert’s body, blood tests were done and methoxyacetyl fentanyl was found in his blood, according to Massey.

“The drugs that were tested that we were able to get from the scene, which Mr. Hubert bought from Mr. Rancourt, tested for the same thing,” he said.

After test results came back, Cloutier got an arrest warrant, and on Feb. 6, Rancourt was stopped in a vehicle on the Ticonic Bridge connecting Waterville and Winslow and arrested and charged him with aggravated trafficking in a schedule W drug — methoxyacetyl fentanyl — a class A crime, because the aggravated trafficking resulted in another person’s death, Massey said. He was taken to the Kennebec County jail, where he has remained, he said.

Cloutier interviewed Rancourt, and Rancourt admitted to selling the drugs to Hubert, according to Massey. He said it is difficult to prove that a drug dealer sold drugs that caused a person’s death, and Cloutier put a lot of time into the case and was able to show that connection, Massey said.

Rancourt had been released from prison about three months before Hubert’s death, he said. Rancourt had been sentenced to 40 months in 2014 for aggravated criminal mischief in Waterville, Massey said.

Assistant District Attorney Frank Griffin was the lead prosecutor in the most recent case, according to Maloney. She said the case, which she discussed with Griffin often, is important.

“For me, the most important message is that these drugs are dangerous,” Maloney said. “These drugs are killing people, and I encourage anyone who is suffering from an addiction to drugs to contact organizations like Operation HOPE to get the help that they need, because we don’t want to lose any more people.”

She said she appreciates the fact that Waterville police are cracking down on dealers selling the drugs that are poisoning people, but the department also is helping addicts get help through its Operation HOPE program, which she says has made a big difference.

Meanwhile, Massey said police realize it is a difficult time for the Hubert family, and officers were glad they were able to identify and charge the person responsible for Kevin Hubert’s death.

“We know when people die from drugs it has a great impact on a family, so it was a motivation for us, …” he said. “We hope it provides some sort of closure for the family, and hopefully it will help as they move forward.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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