Woman sentenced in cocaine case


PARIS — An Otisfield woman was sentenced to four months in jail Friday, several months after admitting to distributing cocaine.

Cindy L. Estep, 54, of 85 Merry Lane, was the last of three people sentenced in relation to a police raid in November 2008 during which drugs and cocaine were seized. Estep appeared in the Androscoggin County Superior Court before Justice William Brodrick, who ordered her to serve four months of a five-year sentence.

Estep must also serve three years of probation and pay a $5,000 fine. During her probation, she must not use or possess illegal drugs, submit to random searches, undergo a substance abuse evaluation and counseling, and have no contact with Frank A. Damon III, 52, of Richardson Hollow Road in Greenwood.

The raid, which took place after a three-month police investigation, led to the discovery of 22 ounces of cocaine and $8,625 in cash at Estep’s residence. Police also seized two handguns, a rifle and a shotgun. The search at Damon’s trailer turned up two ounces of cocaine, $2,166 in cash and nine firearms.

Estep was indicted on charges of aggravated trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to commit cocaine trafficking and unlawful possession of oxycodone. She pleaded guilty in August to the reduced charge of cocaine trafficking and agreed to the forfeiture of the cash and weapons found at her home. Assistant Attorney General David Fisher and defense lawyer Alan Stone agreed that her sentence would be capped at five years with all but 10 months suspended.

In his sentencing memorandum, Stone said Estep was primarily providing cocaine to Damon. At Damon’s sentencing, Fisher said she was providing the drugs “almost entirely at the request” of Damon, who was selling them to finance the construction of a house.

Stone said that Estep formerly abused the drug, but cooperated with police and has been attending substance abuse counseling since her arrest and release on bail. He said she has also been caring for her sick father and doing volunteer work, including work at local hospitals and assisting with Florida relief efforts for the victims of a devastating earthquake in Haiti in January.

Estep apologized to the court in a statement on Friday.

“I made a really bad choice and used bad judgment that I know was very wrong,” she said, “and I regret it, and I am very sorry.”

Stone recommended that the court give Estep a fully suspended five-year sentence with three years of probation. He suggested that if the court imposed a jail sentence, it should not exceed 60 days.

Fisher said in his sentencing memorandum that 10 months would be an appropriate sentence. He said that there were mitigating factors to the case, including a minimal criminal record, Estep’s acceptance of responsibility in the crimes and her agreement to testify against Damon if his case went to trial.

However, he said there were also several aggravating factors, including the large amount of cocaine, the weapons found near the cocaine, the importation of the cocaine from a Connecticut supplier for distribution in Maine and the fact that Estep was on Social Security Income at the time of the crimes.

Damon pleaded guilty in September to trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to commit trafficking in cocaine, and agreed to forfeit the cash and guns found at his property. He was sentenced in December to serve 18 months of a six-year sentence with three years of probation and a $400 fine.

Bruce E. Dunlap, 37, of 81 School House Road in Oxford, was charged with unlawful trafficking in cocaine after police accused him of converting cocaine powder to crack cocaine at a camper on Damon’s property. He admitted to an informational charge of unlawful furnishing of cocaine and received a deferred disposition, allowing him to withdraw his plea in August if he does not violate the court conditions.

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