A 23-year-old Hope man, accused of dealing heroin with his brother, pleaded guilty to an amended drug charge July 2 and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

John Stanton was initially charged with seven criminal counts of possessing and trafficking heroin. As part of a deal negotiated by his defense attorney and Assistant Attorney General Katie Sibley, six counts were dismissed, and the remaining count was amended to a class B felony, nixing the aggravated status of the crime.

The total sentence is five years, with all but 18 months suspended. Stanton will be subject to two years of probation upon his release.

Stanton pleaded guilty to felony trafficking of heroin. He has no prior criminal history, which is unusual to go from no record to a felony conviction, said Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, who accepted the recommended sentence.

Stanton's 27-year-old brother, Richard, pleaded guilty June 6 to two felony counts of unlawful trafficking in heroin and unlawful possession of heroin. He was sentenced to serve two years in prison.

The siblings lived together at a residence on Buzzell Hill Road in Hope, where authorities arrested the men and confiscated drugs and cash March 13.

The home is within 1,000 feet of Hope Elementary School.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, Knox County Sheriff's Office and the Maine Warden's Service executed a search warrant and confiscated 20 grams of heroin worth more than $12,000 on the street, and $2,500 in cash, said James Pease of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Richard Stanton is on federal probation for counterfeiting U.S. currency.

He will be transferred to New York to face his probation violation charge. His state sentencing hearing for the charges is continued pending the result of the federal case.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.