PORTLAND — A Lewiston woman who worked as a drug counselor pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to manufacture more than 50 marijuana plants in connection with a federal drug raid more than a year ago in the Twin Cities.

Law enforcement officers pile marijuana plants Feb. 27, 2018, outside of a warehouse on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal) Sun Journal file photo

The felony charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines, plus a minimum of three years of supervised release.

Stephanie Beck, 41, was licensed by Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation as a certified clinical supervisor and an alcohol and drug counselor.

Between Dec. 1, 2017, and Feb. 27, 2018, she provided patient names to a nurse practitioner, including the names of MaineCare recipients. That nurse practitioner created fraudulent medical marijuana certifications that allowed a marijuana trafficking conspiracy to illegally cultivate marijuana plants under the cover of, but in violation of, the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program, according to court documents.

Often, no medical or clinical examination took place before the medical marijuana certifications were issued, according to federal prosecutors.

Authorities discovered a series of text messages between Beck and an unnamed person identified only by the initials “T.B.,” who was in charge of the conspiracy to cultivate and distribute marijuana that operated in Androscoggin County between 2015 and Feb. 27, 2018.

On that date, federal drug agents conducted a raid in the greater Twin Cities, serving search warrants at 20 locations.

More than a dozen people connected to that raid were eventually indicted by a federal grand jury. The case alleges a drug trafficking organization based in the Twin Cities area grew and distributed large quantities of marijuana under the cover of Maine’s medical marijuana program, but sold marijuana and derivatives to buyers who were not participants in the program and included out-of-state customers.

One of the defendants named in that federal indictment is Timmy Bellmore, 43, of Lewiston, who was charged with manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 marijuana plants and three counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors wrote in court documents that Beck helped create a dozen fraudulent marijuana certifications that allowed the conspiracy to illegally cultivate 72 marijuana plants under the cover of the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana program.

As part of her plea agreement, Beck would be allowed to appeal any prison sentence of more than three months.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, the Maine Attorney General’s Healthcare Crimes Unit and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

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