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Maine family patriarch gets 20 years for running heroin ring

Dale Pinkham (Maine State Police)

(BDN) -- The patriarch of a Buxton family that distributed heroin in northern York County was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to 20 years in prison and six years of supervised release for his role in running the drug distribution ring, officials said.

Dale Pinkham Sr., 57, in September pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to possess stolen firearms and attempted witness tampering on the day a jury was to be selected for his trial. His plea agreement with federal prosecutors called for 10 other charges to be dismissed at sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy found Tuesday that Pinkham Sr. encouraged his heroin customers to steal and burglarize valuable items to trade for heroin, including firearms, electronics and building materials, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release.

Pinkham also traded firearms to his Massachusetts supplier in exchange for heroin and between May 2013 and September 2014, he distributed at least 200 grams, or about 7 ounces, of the drug per month, the release said.

Pinkham was arrested on Oct. 11, 2014, and has remained in state or federal custody since then. While incarcerated, Pinkham directed family members and co-conspirators to move stolen firearms from the Buxton residence to avoid law enforcement finding them, court documents said.

Writing from jail, Pinkham directed family members to locate and threaten suspected government witnesses, provide false information to law enforcement, and contact his heroin source in Massachusetts.

Under the recommended federal sentencing guidelines, Pinkham Sr. faced between 27 and nearly 34 years behind bars. His attorney, Luke Rioux of Portland, recommended his client be sentenced to 3½ years in prison.

Rioux said in his sentencing memorandum that Pinkham Sr. had turned to heroin after his prescription for painkillers expired following treatment for bladder cancer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Block had recommended Pinkham Sr. be incarcerated for 22½ years.

Pinkham Sr., his long-time partner Louise Cook, 53, and their three sons, Dale M. Pinkham Jr., 26, Raymond T. Pinkham, 23, and Robert C. Bean-Pinkham, 21, were indicted in July 2015 on multiple gun and drug charges by a federal grand jury in Portland, court documents said.

Last year, the younger Pinkhams were sentenced for their roles in the drug distribution ring. Robert Bean-Pinkham was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for conspiring to possess and possessing stolen firearms, according to court documents. Dale Pinkham Jr. was sentenced to five years and four months in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin, conspiring to possess stolen firearms and possessing firearms as a prohibited person and Raymond Pinkham was sentenced to four years and four months in prison for conspiring to possess and possessing stolen firearms.

Louise Cook pleaded guilty last year to a drug conspiracy and a drug possession charge. She faces up to 20 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced June 29.

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