U.S. attorney honors investigators in Maine child pornography, drug trafficking cases

PORTLAND, Maine – Some of Maine’s highest-profile cases of trafficking in drugs and child pornography were recalled Tuesday in Portland, where the local, state and federal law enforcement officers involved were awarded for their work.

In a late morning ceremony, U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty also handed out awards to five others, largely for ongoing advocacy for children and teenagers who are victims of crime.

Included in that group were U.S. Probation Officer R. Matthew Brown, Portland-based homeless service provider Preble Street, United Somali Women of Maine, U.S. Postal Service attorney Anthony Rice and Lewiston-based New Beginnings, an organization that aids homeless and runaway teens.

In addition to recent cases of drug trafficking and child pornography, officers involved in significant cases of armed robbery and interstate stalking were also acknowledged.

Honoree and Federal Bureau of Investigations agent Patrick Clancy played a key role in two such cases, Delahanty said.

The FBI agent gathered enough information from what Delahanty called “largely uncooperative witnesses out-of-state” – in the defendant’s family – to successfully prosecute Benjamin Lee, 52, of Missouri. Lee had allegedly threatened to kill his ex-wife and “mount her head on a wall,” and had come to her new hometown of Limerick with a carload of macabre items before police apprehended him in September 2012.

In his vehicle were five firearms, more than 200 rounds of assorted ammunition, a machete, a bayonet, a folding knife, handcuffs, duct tape, packing tape, rubber gloves, camouflage face paint, a roll of plastic trash bags and a roll of plastic sheeting, investigators said. Lee was ultimately sentenced to eight years in prison, prosecutors said.

Clancy also teamed up with another Tuesday honoree, Detective Sgt. Michael Hayes of the York County Sheriff’s Office, to help track down and convict Travis Leeman, then 30, of a frenetic armed robbery of an Infinity Federal Credit Union in Arundel in 2012. Leeman was sentenced to seven years and one day in prison for the crime.

“The robber jumped the counter, like you’d see in old gangster movies,” Delahanty said of Leeman’s alleged antics.

The law enforcement officers involved in investigating the cases of Wade Hoover, a former karate instructor convicted of sexually assaulting two of his young students and recording the crimes, and David Muise, a Portland man who traded child pornography with a cohort in South Carolina, also received awards from Delahanty.

Special Agent David Fife of the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations unit helped uncover Muise’s role in the child pornography trade after his long-distance girlfriend in Canada reported to authorities she received a sexually explicit photo of him hovering over a sleeping child. Muise was ultimately given a 25-year sentence while his South Carolina partner, Daniel Cobb, was given 40 years.

Fellow Homeland Security agents William Hoyt and Martin Conley, as well as Maine State Police Detective Christopher Tupper and the state’s Computer Crimes Task Force, were recognized Tuesday for detecting Hoover’s illegal activity on a peer-to-peer, file-sharing network and then tracing it to his personal laptop in Augusta.

The drug trade also played a central role in Tuesday’s ceremony, with the officers who pursued the cases of Mark “Little Mexico” Razo and Shawn Verrill receiving recognition for their efforts.

After a five-month wiretap investigation, Razo was discovered as the shadowy figure behind an interstate drug trade that moved heroin and methamphetamines into Maine, Delahanty said. Razo – who had been previously arrested on unrelated charges – was secretly directing the drug shipments from inside Folsom State Prison in California, using contraband cellphones, investigators learned. Tuesday honoree Paul Buchanan, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, was on site to arrest him on the new charges the moment Razo was to be released from custody.

Razo was given a new sentence of 25 years in additional prison time.

Others honored for their work on the case included fellow DEA agent John Bourque, Sgt. Jason Bell of the Southeast Iowa Drug Task Force and Senior Special Agent John Prelip of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Verrill was sentenced to nearly six years in prison last July after police used DNA evidence on bottles of prescription drugs and telephone records to build a case that he distributed a fatal dose of buprenorphine to his friend, Miles Malone, in 2010. South Berwick Police Department Lt. Christopher Burbank and DEA special agent Todd Prough were recognized by Delahanty for the Verrill case.

Another team of law enforcement agents was touted by Delahanty for their investigation and arrest of Bernard Subocz, who in November 2012 held up a Bank of America in Wells and a Savings Bank of Maine in York.

York Police Department Sgt. Steve Spofford, Kittery Police Department Officer Steven Hamel and four police investigators and state prosecutors from New Hampshire were given plaudits for nabbing Subocz, who was sentenced to nearly 16 years behind bars.