Ex-Firefighter to Spend 8 Months in Prison for Growing Marijuana

A federal judge in Maine, sentencing a 32-year-old former Boston firefighter on a marijuana-growing charge this week, noted that the man had admitted smoking about 2 ounces of the drug each week during the time he worked as a firefighter, prosecutors said.

The comments came when Sean Berte was sentenced Thursday by US District Judge George Z. Singal in Portland to eight months in prison for his role in cultivating more than 100 marijuana plants, US Attorney Paula D. Silsby’s office said yesterday in a statement.

“At the sentencing, the court noted that in addition to pleading guilty to cultivating the marijuana, the defendant admitted smoking approximately two ounces of marijuana [weekly]during the eight years the defendant was employed as a Boston firefighter,’’ prosecutors said. “The court noted that the defendant’s drug usage during his employment violated the respect and trust the public has in firefighters.’’

The judge was commenting on a presentencing report prepared by the US Probation and Pretrial Services System, said Assistant US Attorney Daniel J. Perry, who prosecuted the case. Such reports are not public documents. While the judge spoke of Berte’s using the drug during the years he worked as a firefighter, “There’s no information in the record to suggest that he consumed drugs while on duty,’’ Perry said.

The plants were discovered after police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents executed a search warrant at a home in Bridgton, Maine, on May 29, 2009. In addition to marijuana plants and harvested marijuana, prosecutors said, the agents recovered objects such as grow lights, timers, an exhaust vent, and various agricultural products.

Berte resigned from his firefighter job shortly after the search was conducted. He pleaded guilty to the charge in February.

Berte was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. Silsby’s office said that both the conviction and the sentence were significant because they sent a strong message that those who grow marijuana in Maine will be prosecuted and face severe punishment.

“He accepted full responsibility, took his punishment like a man, and apologized to his family and to the court for his mistakes,’’ said Berte’s defense attorney, Philip A. Tracy Jr. “He hopes to return to be a productive member of society and rebuild his relationship with his family.’’ Tracy had no further comment.

– Article from Boston Globe.

Comments

5 Comments

  1. denbee on

    Marijuana prohibition is just a full employment program for the enforcement cartels. Over the last 40 years they have certainly prospered. Our friendly “Serve and protect” officers have morphed into the worlds largest jackbooted narco force. The power they have over us is scary. They can now gleefully bust into our homes, ransack and use force to terrorize us, kill our pets in front of our children, arrest and fine us, jail us and seize our properties and money and then force us into rehab…all to protect us from a botanical herb that grows just about anywhere and is safer than even aspirin and is about as addictive as coffee! After 40 years of failed drug policy, police and politicians still accept the premise that this level of deadly force is appropriate to keep people from using marijuana. How can we justify such a stance? Almost a million citizens a year are criminalized and their futures tainted because of marijuana prohibition. Legalize it, regulate it and tax it, get on with more important things.

  2. Anonymous on

    Mr Berte should consider relocating to a medical cannabis state. they want to make it sound like he killed someone.
    To prosecute Mr Berte is a waste of tax dollars, don’t they have any serious crimes there? sickening and sad, they will try to destroy his life and leave him unemployed and destitute for using a medicinal plant, he was hurting no one.

  3. Anonymous on

    I was in the Navy for 8 1/2 years and the last year I was in I smoked about an ounce a week. I cut back on my drinking. I was at about 2 gallons or so a week of Rum, after the first month, down to maybe a glass every other day. I was also “overweight” in accordance with navy standards by like 5 lbs. They put me on a “fat guy” program and I smoked the whole time I was in that. I think with the help of the exercise and MJ, this was helping me cut back on cigarettes. I still smoke, but after getting orders in hand to Iraq (I was Naval Aviation), I was happy to pop on my whiz quiz. It’s crazy to look at how much better I felt about myself, physically and mentally (I was eating really healthy, in my opinion, as well) and be treated like a criminal, granted I served no time in jail, but the excommunication you receive is almost incomprehensible because you have done nothing to hurt anyone, except (supposedly) yourself, but I felt great. So after 8 1/2 years, they booted me with an OTH discharge, but I get 30% disability. For all 3 things they’ve given me disability for, I qualify for medical marijuana.
    I feel bad this guy is really being treated like this, I bet he did his job at least in a satisfactorily way.

  4. Anonymous on

    let me tell ya i go to a fire fighting school in canada and we all burn. my buddies down the street had to sign up to get food because they spent most of their money on ganj.

  5. Alan W. on

    Where is the “crime”, exactly? Where are the victims? Eight-year Boston firefighter Sean Berte is truly the only victim here. He wisely chose the natural, non-toxic, considerably less harmful alternative to alcohol, which most of his co-workers probably consume on their time off. For this he is shamed and imprisoned? What kind of a world do we live in?