Courts and Crime

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has found that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services can’t be held liable for selling a man’s property for less than half its value, letting another property fall into disrepair and euthanizing the man’s cat.

DHHS became the guardian and conservator of William Dean for about a year, after Dean was admitted to a psychiatric facility in 2012. A lawsuit claimed that DHHS breached its fiduciary duty to Dean, who has since passed away.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A court security officer has been placed on leave while under investigation for sending a cellphone photo of a defense attorney's notes to a prosecutor.
The Kennebec Journal reports that court officials are calling the incident a serious ethical breach and violation of courtroom protocol.

The city of Bangor is the latest Maine community to launch an innovative jail diversion program targeting those battling opioid addiction.

Modeled after a New Mexico initiative, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, or LEAD, provides assistance for addicts facing low-level drug offenses as an alternative to incarceration.

Robin Carr, a substance abuse prevention coordinator for Bangor Public Health and Community Services, says the program will be coordinated by Bangor police and the Health Equity Alliance.

BIDDEFORD, Maine - A Biddeford man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after admitting in a plea deal he started a September 2014 fire that killed two people.
Twenty-year-old Dylan Collins pleaded guilty to arson and felony murder charges. He apologized in a statement read during his sentencing on Monday.

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland police are investigating the apparent homicide of a 35-year-old man who was found dead in a car in the city's West End Monday afternoon. 

Assistant Portland Police Chief Vern Malloch says officers responded to a 9-1-1 call.  He says the victim's identity is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

"We are working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Maine Attorney General's Office in that investigation," Malloch says.

BELFAST, Maine - Dozens of people in Belfast say they had money stolen from their bank accounts after using the ATM at the Down East Credit Union branch on Saturday.

Police in Belfast say someone apparently installed a so-called skimming device in that ATM, and that they haven't found any others in the area.

The credit union says the breach didn't happen internally and it believes fewer than 100 members were affected. Most of the withdrawals were made in New York.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine attorney general's office and federal authorities have filed a complaint against three corporations and six individuals accused of falsely advertising, marketing, distributing and selling pills for joint pain and memory problems.
The Portland Press Herald reports the consumer fraud lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in federal court. Two corporations and four individuals have agreed to settle for a combined $500,000.

Maine Department of Corrections

For more than 30 years, the population in the Down East town of Machiasport has remained virtually unchanged, at about 1,100 residents. But that number could drop by more than 10 percent if state lawmakers agree to Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to close the Downeast Correctional Facility.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Cumberland County Superior Court judge has granted a motion for a $2 million attachment on the home of a Hiram man.  

Philip J. Macri  faces criminal charges stemming from an accident that claimed the life of a Steep Falls woman and seriously injured her daughter. 

Steven Silin, of the Lewiston firm Berman & Simmons, represents the injured girl and says Philip J. Macri fraudulently transferred his home to his father to prevent it from becoming a recoverable asset in a lawsuit.

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal prosecutors say a Norwegian man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for making threats against Maine police while in Portland as a tourist.

Twenty-nine-year-old Espen Brungodt of Bergen was sentenced Thursday. He pleaded guilty to making threatening interstate communications in September.

Authorities charged that Brungodt made the threats against police in August via email, saying he would shoot police officers from a parking garage. He did not act on the threats, and was arrested at a Portland hotel hours after making them.

Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley is asking the Legislature for more funding, in order to maintain support staff and security.

In her address to a joint convention of the House and Senate, the chief justice thanked lawmakers for their support of funding for courthouse improvements and legislation to provide for digital technology in the courts, but she said many challenges remain.

Saufley announced a statewide conference this summer to discuss how to address the ongoing domestic violence problems in the state.

Maine’s top judges are weighing the fate of one of their own. The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on Friday on whether former York County Probate Judge Robert Nadeau should be barred from the bench for judicial misconduct.

YORK, Maine - A former Roman Catholic priest who spent more than a decade in a Massachusetts prison for raping an altar boy has been indicted in Maine on 29 counts of sexual misconduct dating to the 1980s.
York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery tells The Boston Globe that some counts against 74-year-old Ronald Paquin involve a child under 14.
Paquin, freed in 2015, was a central figure in the Boston archdiocese's sex abuse scandal. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy.

PORTLAND, Maine - A man charged with assault in an incident in Portland that police say is a hate crime has pleaded not guilty.
Twenty-year-old Jamie Hoffman appeared in court on Monday to respond to two counts of assault and a charge of interfering with constitutional rights. He is charged with making racial slurs and assaulting students outside Casco Bay High School last month.
Hoffman's lawyer says part of the case involves Hoffman's right to free speech.

contributed photo

The Maine medical examiner has determined that the death of a 17-year-old transgender resident at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in November was the result of suicide.

The attorney general says there's no basis for her office to investigate further, but the Department of Corrections is asking an outside expert to review Long Creek's suicide prevention policy.