A prosecutor says the 28-year-old “has been a drug dealer all of his adult life.”

AUGUSTA (AP) – A 28-year-old man from Starks will spend seven years in prison for trafficking in crack cocaine.

Alphonso C. Johnson was sentenced Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to 12 years in prison, with five of those years suspended. Johnson was convicted last month of having 52 grams of cocaine in his car when he was stopped by police in Augusta in July 2002.

Prosecutor Alan Kelley asked Justice John Atwood to sentence Johnson to 18 years in prison, with all but eight years suspended. He called Johnson a “drug dealer plain and simple.”

“He has been a drug dealer all of his adult life,” Kelley said. “He is originally from outside Maine and brought drugs into the state with the intention of making his living dealing cocaine and crack cocaine.”

Johnson’s attorney, Andrews Campbell, said an eight-year sentence was extreme, and showed a list of people convicted on similar charges who received sentences of four to five years in prison. He asked that Johnson be sentenced to no more than four years in prison.

Johnson told the judge that he had tried to change himself and wanted to be around while his young son grows up. Johnson said he has helped a number of inmates at the Kennebec County jail with their studies while he has been held there.

Johnson was convicted in 1994 in New Hampshire of trafficking in crack cocaine, so he faced a minimum prison term of four years for the Maine conviction.

Johnson signed an application Wednesday afternoon to appeal the sentence.

AP-ES-08-28-03 0216EDT

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