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The Herald Gazette: Methadone clinic director, counselor make court appearances

The Herald Gazette: Methadone clinic director, counselor make court appearances.

Methadone clinic director, counselor make court appearances

By Stephen Betts | Sep 13, 2010

Rockland — The founder of the Turning Tide methadone clinic — which was shut down last month by federal officials — and a drug counselor who worked at the facility made their initial appearances in court Monday, Sept. 13 on felony drug charges.

Angel Fuller-McMahan, 42, of Owls Head made no plea at the brief hearing held Sept. 13 in 6th District Court on the charge of felony possession of cocaine. She was accompanied by her attorney.

A scheduling conference on her case was set for Oct. 28.

Deputy Maine Attorney General Lisa Bogue agreed that bail be continued for Fuller-McMahan at the originally set $5,000 unsecured bail.

Immediately after her hearing, Carol Gardiner, 49, of Thorndike, a counselor at the clinic, made her initial appearance for felony attempted possession of cocaine.

Gardiner made no plea, but said she wanted the court to appoint an attorney to represent her.

Bogue asked that Gardiner remain free on unsecured bail, but wanted conditions that she not use or possess illegal drugs and agree to random searches and drug testing. Gardiner said she had no objection those conditions.

Judge Michael Westcott reminded Gardner that police could come to her home and search.

“It’s OK. I’m on a slew of medications,” Gardiner said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shut down Turning Tide Aug. 19, citing an imminent threat to the health and safety of the public. The immediate suspension order followed the arrest July 13 of Turning Tide founder and licensed operator Fuller-McMahan. Gardiner was issued a summons for her charge on July 16.

Turning Tide had 30 days to file an administrative appeal. The DEA has not returned telephone calls to state whether an appeal has been filed.

Guy Cousins, the director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, said he was not aware of an appeal being filed for the suspension of the state license, but he noted his agency oversees but is not the licensing authority for the clinics. A telephone call was made Monday morning to the licensing bureau, but has not yet been returned.

The 280-plus patients were referred to clinics in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Waterville and Bangor.

On July 13, agents seized from Fuller-McMahan about an ounce of cocaine hidden in her pants, along with hypodermic needles. The street value of the cocaine was $2,500, according to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Fuller-McMahan’s 2000 Ford Escort was also seized during her arrest.

Gardiner was not with Fuller-McMahan at the time of the clinic owner’s arrest but the investigation led to her, said MDEA Supervisor James Pease.

He said Gardiner and Fuller-McMahan had been buying cocaine for several months.

Fuller-McMahan was arrested by the MDEA in 1997 and ultimately pleaded guilty to possessing heroin.

Gardiner — then Carol Jacobs of Frankfort — was convicted in 1986 for unlawful trafficking in cocaine, according to records at Knox County Superior Court. She was sentenced to one year in jail with all but 75 days suspended and placed on probation for a year.

Fuller-McMahan first proposed the clinic in November 2004, but it took a legal battle in federal court before the Rockland City Council agreed to allow Turning Tide to operate at its site on Route 1 at the Thomaston town line. The City Council had approved a zoning law that limited the clinic to the city’s half-mile stretch of Route 90, but later relented and agreed to zoning for the former Tuttle Shoe Barn to be used for the clinic.

The clinic opened in July 2008.

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