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.