Jeffrey Linscott began dealing drugs after he blew through his savings – and his wife’s – to support a drug-addicted woman with whom he had a relationship.
Now the retired Maine state trooper is headed to prison.
Linscott’s lawyers and his wife, Kimberly Linscott, cited the former trooper’s efforts to support the unnamed woman’s addiction as the reason he started selling cocaine and fentanyl, a highly dangerous drug responsible for scores of drug overdoses every year in the state.
Linscott and his wife had been separated for a period of time, according to statements in court, but reconciled a couple of months before he was arrested during a sting operation in December.
Linscott pleaded guilty Monday to one count of trafficking in cocaine as part of a plea deal with the state. At the recommendation of prosecutors, he was sentenced to four years with three of them suspended – meaning he will serve one year in prison. He also will be on probation for two years and was forced to relinquish a pickup truck and the $766 in cash he had on him when he was arrested after selling fentanyl to an informant in December.
Linscott’s sentence is lighter than what he could have faced if the case had gone to trial. The maximum penalty for trafficking in cocaine is 10 years in prison.
Linscott told Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Ronald Cole that he was “deeply ashamed” of what he had done.
He apologized to his wife, his family, his “state police family” and the troops he had served with during a year-long deployment to Iraq while in the Army Reserve. Linscott also said that he was relieved that his father, who died in 2012, wasn’t alive to see what he had done.
“I’ve lived my life in the past trying to be part of the solution, not the problem,” he told Cole.
It was not clear Monday when Linscott, who lived in Buxton and retired in late 2010, began selling drugs. It also was not clear when Linscott and his wife separated or how long he was in a relationship with the unidentified woman.
It is clear that the drug sale that led to his arrest was not his first.
Linscott already had made two sales to a confidential informant working with state drug agents last October when he was arrested in December after again selling drugs to the confidential informant.
During a tape-recorded telephone call between the informant and Linscott last October, the informant complained about the drugs he had bought. Linscott’s response was that no one else had complained. However, prosecutors and defense lawyers never referred to how many other customers Linscott had.
Kimberly Linscott spoke in court on behalf of her husband, telling the judge that the couple reconciled in October and began marriage counseling with the pastor at their Hollis church. The pastor told Cole the two were “making good progress.”
“This is a man who is still working on why he did what he did,” Kimberly Linscott said. She said her husband’s family has a history of mental illness, and also mentioned that the death of Jeffrey Linscott’s father, and the suicide two years ago of a soldier he served with, weighed on her husband.
She said he has prayed more since his arrest – the couple says grace at meals and prays at other times, too, Kimberly Linscott said. Once, she said, her husband prayed that his truck wouldn’t be confiscated, but he also said if that was what God wanted, that was OK, too.
Gene Libby, one of Linscott’s lawyers, spoke to the judge in defense of the former police officer, saying the turn his client’s life had taken was an example of “there but for the grace of God go I.”
“I think he just broke,” Tyler Smith, Linscott’s other lawyer, told the judge.
Smith asked for a sentence of 60 days, but Cole sided with the prosecution’s recommendation of a year.
Cole called the case “unusual” and “sad.” He mused that Linscott’s face looked familiar, and it is likely that the state trooper, who had been a homicide detective for part of his time on the force, had testified before him. But Linscott’s time with the state police, Cole added, meant that he likely had been called to scenes where someone had overdosed on drugs, and that should have been enough to keep Linscott from selling dangerous drugs.
Linscott worked as a state trooper for 22 years and was able to use his time served on active duty in the Army to count toward his state pension, which is $3,447 a month. The pension is not affected by his conviction, Libby said.
In Maine, pensions of public employees and officials can only be revoked if a person is convicted of a crime related to their official status.
Cole ordered Linscott to report to the Cumberland County Jail on July 10, after he sees a doctor about a shoulder ailment that could require surgery. He will then be transferred to state prison.