AUGUSTA — A Vassalboro man was sentenced to less than the mandatory minimum sentence on drug trafficking charges after the prosecutor went to bat for him and the judge agreed.

Assistant Attorney General Katie Sibley told the court Joseph L. Gagnon had made extraordinary efforts to rehabilitate himself while he’s been out on bail, and didn’t have any run-ins with the law until he developed a drug addiction late in life.

Gagnon, 61, was sentenced to serve 18 months, of a 15-year suspended sentence, in prison on charges of aggravated trafficking in heroin and cocaine and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, all in Vassalboro in 2016, by Justice Michaela Murphy Wednesday.

Murphy said the normal mandatory minimum sentence would be four years in prison. But she agreed, after speaking with Sibley, to make an exception for Gagnon, which justices may do in Maine only if they determine there are exceptional circumstances.

Murphy and Sibley both said it was only the second time either of them had been involved in a case where less than the mandatory minimum sentence was imposed.

Sibley said Gagnon, since being arrested and released on bail, has — of his own accord — has taken part in at least two different rehabilitation programs in the two years he’s been out on bail. Prior to 2006 he had no criminal record, she said, adding that his record since then has been related to his drug addiction.

“For the better part of his life there wasn’t as much as a speeding ticket,” on Gagnon’s record, Sibley said.

Court testimony when Gagnon pleaded guilty in April 2017 suggested Gagnon was injured on the job and overprescribed opiates.

Gagnon told Murphy he attended multiple drug treatment programs, none of which involved using medication, because he felt he needed the rehabilitation. He said he’s been clean and sober for nine months.

“I just need to keep going with that,” the white-haired Gagnon said. “Substance abuse or addiction is a disease that needs to be maintained. I need to keep going to meetings.”

Murphy said Sibley agreeing to making an exception to the mandatory minimum of four years for Gagnon meant a lot to the court in her decision.

He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated trafficking in cocaine and one count of aggravated trafficking of heroin. A charge of aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, and additional charges of trafficking in cocaine and heroin were dismissed.

Gagnon, also known as “Joe Daddy” faced three drug trafficking charges related to a Jan. 29, 2016, search of his home on Whitehouse Road by Maine Drug Enforcement Agents. Police arrested eight people after finding 27.7 grams of heroin, 60 grams of cocaine and 14 grams of methamphetamine, and two firearms.

Sibley said previously Gagnon allowed Richard J. Baker, also known as “Stash,” 37, of Bronx, New York, to stay in his home and sell drugs. Baker pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in 2016 and is serving a six-year prison term.

Another search warrant was executed at Gagnon’s home in April 2016, and police found 3.8 grams of heroin, resulting in additional charges.

Sibley said Gagnon has been out on bail for two years since being arrested “without so much as a hiccup,” and has shown he is serious about staying off drugs.

Gagnon was represented by attorney Leonard Sharon.

The start of his prison term was delayed until Jan. 7, as Sharon requested the sentence not start until after the holidays.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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