Depending on whom you talk to, Michael Pelletier is either a criminal mastermind or a victim of America’s broken judicial system.
The 62-year-old paraplegic is serving a life sentence without parole for conspiracy to import over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from Canada, and not much has changed in his case since we last spoke.
According to the prosecutors, he was running a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, hiring smugglers to swim vast amounts of cannabis across the Saint John River, and using the profits to build a life of luxury.
But Pelletier says that’s far from the case. He was just smuggling for himself and a few friends.
“They say it was over 1,000 kilos, which is over a ton,” he told me over a 15 minute phone call from Terre Haute USP. “And Jericho, you might as well say I’m Santa Claus, I mean, it’s unreal.”
Marijuana as medicine
Pelletier was paralyzed from the waist down at age 11, when he hitched a ride on the back of a tractor on one of his dad’s potato farms. His brother was driving,