A Gardiner woman pleaded guilty Monday to drug conspiracy charges in federal court.

Heather Downs, 31, was arrested on the charge six months ago and initially denied it. She changed that plea on Monday at U.S. District Court in Bangor, and will be sentenced later.

Downs was indicted March 15 by a federal grand jury on a charge of “conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute” heroin and cocaine base in the period of June 14, 2015 to March 9, 2017, in Maine and elsewhere.”

A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says, “Downs conspired with others to acquire heroin and crack in Rochester, New York, and transport it to central Maine for distribution.” It says she provided transportation, facilitated deals, “introduced Rochester conspirators to area distributors and assisted other conspirators in finding residences from which to sell drugs.”

According to the prosecution’s version of events, filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey, “There were approximately 12-15 such residences throughout central Maine during the height of the conspiracy’s activities. The individuals who lived in these residences were paid in cocaine base or heroin for allowing the Rochester individuals to stay in the residences and sell narcotics.”

The charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. However, under a plea agreement Downs signed Friday, she waived her right to appeal any sentence “that does not exceed 48 months.”

Downs was represented by attorney Sarah A. Churchill.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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