Two Phillips residents plead guilty to meth lab operation

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FARMINGTON — A Phillips man is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 2 on a drug charge for a methamphetamine lab officials broke up on the Rangeley Road in Phillips on July 15.

Michael Halle, 46, one of four co-defendants in the case, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs on Dec. 5, according to court documents. Halle has been in jail since his arrest in July.

James Andrews, assistant district attorney, said the recommendation is nine years in prison with all but four years suspended and three years probation. The four-year cap will be argued by the state and Halle and his attorney, Curtis Rice, Andrews said.

A conviction on the charge carries up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

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Co-defendant Erin Smith, 43, also of Rangeley Road in Phillips, is on a two-year deferred sentencing agreement. She pleaded guilty Dec. 5 to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit trafficking schedule drugs, Andrews said.

A conviction on the conspiracy charge carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

If Smith follows through on the agreement, she will be able to withdraw her guilty plea to the felony and plead to a misdemeanor furnishing charge and receive a $400 fine, Andrews said. She has already served six months in jail, he said.

She is due back in court Dec. 31, 2016.

The cases of the other co-defendants, Jason Fowler, 40, of Chesterville and Kimberly Webber, 25, of Vienna, have not been resolved, Andrews said. They each are charged with felony unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs.

Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officers and Franklin County Sheriff’s Detective Kenneth Charles began investigating Fowler on July 9 after receiving information from a confidential informant, according to a police affidavit filed in court.

Police found items in the Jeep that were consistent with making methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant. Webber, a passenger in the vehicle, had control of some of the drug in the car, according to a drug agent’s affidavit filed with the court.

Webber admitted to investigators to using methamphetamine but contended she never saw it being made, the affidavit states. Webber also told investigators that she and Fowler had been staying at a residence on Rangeley Road in Phillips with Halle.

According to Webber, it is also believed that Halle was teaching several individuals, including Fowler, how to make methamphetamine, the court document states.

Webber also admitted to buying lithium batteries for Fowler. The batteries and cold packs are two ingredients used to make the drug, the document states.

When Halle and Smith were questioned by agents at the Phillips residence, after they were read their Miranda rights, both of them admitted they participated in manufacturing the drug with Fowler, the affidavit states.

Halle directed agents to a second-floor bedroom where a supervising agent identified items he knows to be used in making the drug.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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