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Lowell man gets 16 years in federal prison for shooting at marijuana caregiver in Maine robbery attempt

Co-defendant from Maynard also sentenced

FILE-In this Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019 file photo file photo, Marijuana plants growing under special grow lights, at GB Sciences Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
FILE-In this Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019 file photo file photo, Marijuana plants growing under special grow lights, at GB Sciences Louisiana, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

PORTLAND, Maine — A 33-year-old Lowell man was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison, and a co-defendant from Maynard was sentenced to just six fewer months, after both men pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to shooting at — and missing — a medical marijuana caregiver they tried to rob in York, Maine, in 2019.

Eric Mercado, of Lowell, and Steven Hardy, 33, of Maynard, both pleaded guilty in February of last year to discharging a firearm during an act of violence, interfering with commerce through acts of violence and conspiring to interfere with commerce through acts of violence, according to online federal court records.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed sentencing for the men until Tuesday, when Chief U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy sentenced Mercado to 16 years in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release, and Hardy to 15 1/2 years in federal prison and four years of supervised release, according to a press release from Maine U.S. Attorney Donald Clark. Levy also ordered both men to repay $3,740 to the victim in the case.

Mercado and Hardy admitted they drove from Lowell to York, Maine, on May 11, 2019, and conspired with individuals who posed as friends of the medical marijuana caregiver in order to gain access to the caregiver’s home.

“While the caregiver and these persons were socializing, Mercado and Hardy entered the house through a door that had been unlocked by a member of the conspiracy. They were wearing masks, Mercado was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and Hardy was armed with a 9 mm pistol,” prosecutors said in a press release. “Mercado and Hardy ordered the victim onto the ground and demanded money and marijuana, but the victim refused. The victim fled to another part of the house pursued by Mercado and Hardy. Both Mercado and Hardy fired their guns but missed the victim. The victim eventually escaped the house while being chased by Mercado and Hardy.”

Prosecutors said Mercado and Hardy then stole the caregiver’s truck and fled the scene, only to crash a short time later and flee into a nearby wooded area. They were later picked up by a driver who had taken them to the caregiver’s home, but a York Police officer who had been in the area that night had noted the license plate on the vehicle, according to federal prosecutors.

As an investigation into the attempted heist unfolded, police linked the vehicle the York Police officer had noted to an individual Mercado had recruited to drive to and from the caregiver’s house, and notified the FBI, according to a press release. Four months after the attempted robbery, the FBI searched a wooded area where Mercado had allegedly thrown the 12-gauge shotgun used in the crime, and found the gun submerged in mud, according to prosecutors.

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