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Anchorage cocaine dealer who assaulted ATF agent gets more than 12 years in jail

Casey Grove
Creative Commons illustration

A convicted Anchorage cocaine dealer who had guns and drugs when federal agents confronted him last October -- and who then punched the agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Alaska -- was sentenced to more than 12 years behind bars this week.

Lamar Joseph Facine, 30, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of being a felon in possession of a weapon and a count each of assaulting a federal officer and possessing cocaine. After Facine unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his guilty plea, Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced him to 12 1/2 years in prison Monday. According to a sentencing memorandum which federal prosecutors filed in the case, Facine was already a convicted drug dealer when agents closed in on him in late October 2012. The prosecutors say a series of events led to Facine’s charges and sentence:

Facine’s girlfriend had learned he was carrying handguns and selling cocaine and heroin to another woman in Fairbanks. She told a probation officer about it and said Facine threatened her and her son, according to the sentencing memorandum. Subsequently, the woman threw Facine out of her home.

"She also informed the grand jury of the defendant’s escalating temper on Oct. 29," the sentencing memorandum says. "Specifically, she recalled him saying that she could find her son’s body in the dumpster and that she and her children should wear bullet-proof vests."

Officers approached Facine that day.

"... He made a bad situation worse by actively resisting the arresting officers," the memorandum says. "The defendant assumed a fighting stance and then began swinging at the officers with closed fists, ultimately hitting ATF Resident Agent in Charge Michael Graham in the face."

Facine continued to fight until the officers subdued him. In his car, they found a pistol-grip 12-gauge shotgun in close reach of the driver’s seat and a bandolier holding shells. They also found him with a bag of cocaine, the size of which is not described in the memorandum. He also had other ammunition in his car that matched a Glock .40-caliber pistol and the Kel-Tec 9mm pistol his girlfriend had found earlier.

"As the defendant told the officers who arrested him, if officers had 'rolled up' on him while he had been in his car, 'it would have been on' -- an implied threat by the defendant that not only was he armed but he was also willing to use his weapons against others," the sentencing memorandum says.

Lovers reunite, attorney defends assault

Sometime after testifying to the grand jury against Facine, the girlfriend recanted, got back together with Facine and made plans to marry him. Agents apparently recorded phone conversations between the two in which Facine seemed to tell her to "sell" her now-changed story. Facine was also overheard talking to her during visits in jail.

"You know when you get worked up or emotional, you start telling yourself stuff in your head until you believe it, even if it’s not true," he said, according to the memorandum, in which the prosecutors argue for a harsher sentence due to Facine’s alleged obstruction of justice.

Facine failed to change his lifestyle after the 2007 drug case, in which he sold cocaine. His crimes had escalated from the age of 16, prosecutors wrote, when he fired a .22-caliber rifle at police officers and an innocent bystander.

In a sentencing memo in Facine’s defense, his attorney Steven Wells argued that Facine had not been actually selling the cocaine he possessed in 2012 when the officers found him with guns and he had not been actively using the weapons to protect drug trafficking.

"Even his conviction for assault is more of a hot-headed bar punch than a deliberate effort to hurt someone," Wells wrote.

"Deterrence of others is a nice ideal, but in the real world, it does not work out so well. Our experiment with increasing prison sentences has failed," Wells continued. "Dramatically increasing prison sentences has not increased our safety."

At the sentencing, Judge Beistline said Facine was clearly dangerous, according to a written statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Beistline said Facine’s actions "demonstrated a lack of respect for law enforcement and for those in positions of authority, therefore, it was important to fashion a sentence that focused on deterrence and protection of the public."

In other ATF news: 'Pineapple' possessed meth, firearms

In another recent drug-and-guns case in Anchorage, federal agents on Friday arrested V.A. Arthur "Pineapple" Dole, 35, and charged him with possession of methamphetamine and firearms.

ATF Agent Rodney Russell wrote in an affidavit filed last week that he started investigating Dole’s trafficking in April. In May, an informant bought more than 13 grams of meth from Dole at his San Roberto Avenue apartment, the affidavit says.

"During the transaction the (confidential informant) observed approximately six firearms in the apartment to include an AK-47,  an AR-15, a shotgun and a Glock pistol with an extended magazine," Russell wrote in the affidavit. (The informant) has observed Dole in possession of firearms, while trafficking in methamphetamine, on numerous occasions."

On Friday, the informant called agent Russell to say that Dole had about 3 ounces of meth in his room at Parkwood Inn on Juneau Street, just south of Tudor Road, the affidavit says. The informant said Dole left carrying the drugs and a pistol in a black bag, and agents followed a Chevrolet Tahoe Dole had hopped into. The agents later found the black bag, the methamphetamine and a Ruger .45-caliber pistol inside, but the affidavit does not say where.

They arrested Dole, who had 22 grams of meth in his pockets in individual baggies, $981.43 in cash, and a small pipe that appeared to be used to smoke meth, the affidavit says. Dole allegedly said the bag, its contents and the pistol were his, according to the affidavit, which unsealed Monday.

Contact Casey Grove at casey(at)alaskadispatch.com and find him on Twitter at twitter.com/kcgrove.