Avon man pleads guilty in one of Franklin County’s largest drug busts

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FARMINGTON — An Avon man pleaded guilty Friday to trafficking in oxycodone, hydrocodone and marijuana.

Daryl “Poochie” Searles, 57, was arrested April 18 at his home at 148 Avon Valley Road.

He also admitted Friday in Franklin County Superior Court to criminal forfeiture involving $144,008 in cash and seven guns seized during the April bust by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Maine State Police.

At the time, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said it was one of the biggest drug busts in the county.

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Two of three felony charges of aggravated trafficking of a scheduled drug were reduced to lesser felonies in a plea agreement. One felony count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and one criminal forfeiture of property were dismissed.

A conviction on the most serious felony charge Searles pleaded guilty to, involving more than 300 pills of oxycodone, is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.

If the case had gone to trial, the court would have heard testimony that during the fall of 2013, Franklin County Detective Stephen Charles received initial information about Searles and drug dealings, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said.

Several people provided information to Charles and the MDEA, he said.

On April 9, a controlled buy was conducted with one 30-milligram oxycodone pill with law enforcement listening in, he said.

The three law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant at Searles’ residence, which he shared with a woman. Seized during that raid were 2.14 pounds of marijuana in several containers; 442 pills, including oxycodone and hydrocodone; $144,008 in cash found in several locations, including on his person; and seven firearms, Robbins said testimony would show.

Testimony would also be presented that Searles paid cash for his pickup truck and that he had told law enforcement that he only made $500 to $600 a month and had an annual income of $7,000, Robbins said.

The plea agreement is for a 10-year sentence with all but four years suspended and three years probation, Robbins said.

Robbins and Searles’ attorney, Walter “Woody” Hanstein, will present arguments on the amount of prison time that should be served during a sentencing hearing Jan. 2. The cash and guns would also be forfeited.

Hanstein said Searles is admitting to the forfeiture, but it will be done in the form of an Alford plea. He is 57 years old and lives in a place with no bathroom and uses an outhouse, Hanstein said. He reserves the right to argue that the cash that will be taken away is his life savings, he said.

An Alford plea means the court will find a person guilty, but the defendant admits no guilt and asserts innocence in a case under the belief that if the case went to trial with the state’s evidence presented, he or she would be found guilty.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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