A retired Maine state trooper has been arrested and charged with dealing drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
Jeffrey Linscott, 51, of Buxton, was arrested late Wednesday after state drug agents said they intercepted him delivering fentanyl to a customer in the parking lot of the Hannaford supermarket in Gorham. The MDEA was aware that the sale was expected to take place and had agents on hand, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said they seized from Linscott several grams of what they believe to be fentanyl, as well as packaging materials, scales and $1,000 of suspected drug proceeds. Linscott was charged with aggravated trafficking in fentanyl, trafficking in fentanyl and cocaine, and possession of fentanyl.
Authorities in Maine believe fentanyl, a painkiller up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, is responsible for more than half of the 376 drug overdose deaths in the state last year, a sharp increase from the year before. Fentanyl is often prescribed to cancer patients, but what’s turning up in drug busts in Maine and across the country is typically manufactured illegally. It is often mixed with heroin, creating a much more powerful drug that is more likely to cause overdoses.
Linscott, who retired in November 2010 after 22 years as a state trooper, had been under investigation for about two months along with others suspected of dealing heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in Cumberland County, the MDEA said. The agency said agents made several undercover purchases of drugs from Linscott.
Michael Edes, who headed the union representing state police in Maine from 1998 to 2014, said troopers are stunned by the news of Linscott’s arrest.
“Jeff was a good trooper, he was a nice guy and this has caught all of us by surprise,” Edes said, “but he has turned into a huge embarrassment for the state police. For something like this to give us a black eye has made all of us upset.” Linscott was taken to the Cumberland County Jail after his arrest. Bail was set at $50,000 and he is expected to make his initial court appearance Friday.
He was being held Thursday in a single-occupant “dry cell” at the jail, said Capt. Steve Butts of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. That cell is for people who are suspected of having contraband hidden in their bodies, Butts said.
McCausland said more arrests in the case are expected.
He said Linscott began his career with the state police in 1988, patrolling the Maine Turnpike and was assigned to the barracks in Skowhegan.
He was an agent with the MDEA for three months in 1995 and then promoted to detective and assigned to the homicide unit. He was in that unit for 13 years except for a year in which he was recalled into the military and sent to the Mideast.
Edes, who is now a labor specialist for the National Fraternal Order of Police, said Linscott was in the Army reserves.
In 2008, after returning from military duty, he asked to be reassigned as a trooper, McCausland said, and was assigned to the Alfred barracks in York County, where he was stationed when he retired.
Edes said returning to patrol duty is a common tactic for state police to boost their pensions, which are based on the three highest-earning years of the officer’s career.
Overtime is offered on a seniority basis, so Linscott would have been in line to get overtime hours before most other troopers on highway patrol. And overtime is frequently available for patrol officers, Edes said, but rarely for plainclothes officers, such as detectives.
In addition, “A lot of guys want to retire being a trooper, or at least wearing the uniform,” Edes said.
Because he was able to boost his income before retirement, Edes said he believed Linscott and his wife were financially secure and deeply involved with their religion.
Linscott drove a truck after retiring, Edes said, but he doesn’t know who he worked for.
Edes said he thinks Linscott’s wife worked for a bank and the couple had no children.
Edes said he saw Linscott perhaps twice since Linscott retired seven years ago, and nothing seemed amiss.
“There was no indication that anything was wrong,” he said.
McCausland said he wasn’t aware of any disciplinary issues with Linscott during his career with the state police.
Linscott was able to make a payment to the state in 2010 to allow his time in the military to be counted toward his state employment and that permitted him to retire early with 25 years of service, McCausland said.