A Waldo County man who was serving a five-year prison sentence at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham died Saturday morning, authorities said.

Arthur Gardiner Maine Department of Corrections

Arthur Gardiner, 69, of Swanville died shortly after 11 a.m., the Maine Department of Corrections said in a press release Sunday. According to the Department of Corrections, Gardiner’s death was not related to COVID-19.

Gardiner was serving time for charges associated with aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs. He was due to be released from the prison in March 2023. He began serving his sentence in 2018.

There have been eight reported inmate deaths – including Gardiner’s – at state-run correctional facilities in the past year. One of the deaths, in December, was that of a 70-year-old man at the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston. His death was caused by the COVID-19 virus, and his name was not released because of medical privacy concerns cited by the Department of Corrections.

Among the other deaths reported by the Department of Corrections in 2020 were: George Riddle, 48, who was serving a sentence for robbery and burglary, died at the Maine State Prison in Warren in December; Matthew Fleury, 51, who was serving a 17-year sentence for gross sexual assault, died at the Maine State Prison in November; and convicted murderer Edward J. Hackett Jr., 64, died at the Maine State Prison in August. Hackett was serving a life sentence for the murder of Colby College student Dawn Rossignol.

Gardiner had been in trouble with law enforcement previously.

A five-month investigation into the distribution of oxycodone pills in Waldo County in 2014 led to the arrest of three people, including Gardiner and a Massachusetts man, who was charged with bringing the drug into Maine. Officers with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency made the arrests. At the time of his 2014 arrest, Gardiner had been out on bail for an earlier charge of aggravated trafficking in oxycodone.

Additional details about the circumstances of Gardiner’s death were not disclosed Sunday, but state policy requires that whenever there is a prisoner death, the Maine State Police and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner must be notified.

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