AUBURN — A local man police found driving a car with materials used to make methamphetamine in the trunk pleaded guilty to a related charge and was sentenced to serve 30 months behind bars.

A judge in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Thursday sentenced James Ludlow, 41, of 46 East Bates St. to eight years in prison, with all but 30 months suspended. Once he is released from prison, he’ll be on probation for four years.

Ludlow and prosecutors had settled on the sentence after months of discussion, said his attorney, George Hess, who added he had been prepared to take the case to trial.

His client had been indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on a single count of Class A aggravated operation of a methamphetamine laboratory, a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He had a history of convictions in meth operations, according to court papers, which bumped up the charge from a lesser felony.

Two related charges of tampering with a witness were dismissed. On a charge of violation of condition of release, Ludlow was sentenced to one year to be served at the same time as the drug sentence.

Ludlow has spent roughly half a year at Androscoggin County Jail; that time will be subtracted from the 30-month sentence, Hess said.

Once Ludlow is on probation, he will be barred from having alcohol or illegal drugs and he may not have pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in cold medicine that is used as a key ingredient in making meth.

Ludlow’s girlfriend, Kimberly Lothrop, 36, of Lewiston, pleaded guilty last month to a felony charge of attempted operation of a methamphetamine lab, but will be allowed to withdraw that plea in a year if she complies with all of the conditions of her agreement and terms of her release on personal recognizance.

Ludlow had been driving her car on June 17 into a wooded area in Mechanic Falls when police made the arrests of Ludlow and Lothrop.

A second defendant linked to Ludlow, Daniel Kelly, 45, of 640 Pigeon Hill Road, Mechanic Falls, pleaded guilty in August to operating a meth lab. A judge had imposed a 30-month sentence but suspended all of it, except for the 62 days Kelly had already spent at Androscoggin County Jail.

Kelly had been present in the wooded area in Mechanic Falls where drug agents discovered meth-making materials in the trunk of Lothrop’s car. Kelly told agents he had bought pseudoephedrine for Ludlow.

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant. Preparing the drug is considered dangerous because the chemicals can create fumes and there is a risk of fire or explosion, according to authorities.

Ludlow was to pay $512 in restitution to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

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