Courts and Crime

A federal judge in Maine will reconsider a case in which a Freeport man was ordered to pay millions of dollars for defaming the owner of a Haitian orphanage.

At issue is whether the court had jurisdiction over the case.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Buxton couple has been charged in connection with a string of home burglaries, mostly in York County.

State Police spokesman Steve McCausland says that 28-year-old Shawn Swenson was charged with 17 burglaries and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Abigail Hall, received summonses on four.

McCausland says Swenson admitted to his involvement in at least seventeen burglaries in Hollis, Dayton, Buxton, Scarborough and Saco. "A troubling aspect was homeowners this week encountered at least the man," McCausland says.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, chair of the Senate Aging Committee, says federal investigators have uncovered a scam operation by drug smugglers to enlist unknowing seniors to help them smuggle drugs across international borders.

“International criminal cartels have begun to use unsuspecting American seniors as mules to smuggle narcotics across international borders,” she says.

Collins says many seniors have been arrested for drug smuggling in foreign countries and some have been jailed.

More than a year after voters defeated a referendum to ban the use of bait, dogs and traps in the state’s bear hunt, supporters of the measure went before the Maine Supreme Court Wednesday morning.

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting had filed suit to prevent the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife from actively campaigning against the measure. After the election a state Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit as moot. But the group is challenging that ruling.

Michelle Sanborn

A plan by the Maine State Prison in Warren to cut back on visitation beginning later this month is raising anxiety among some prisoners’ families and friends who fear it will discourage contact.

AUGUSTA, Maine — State lawmakers are considering a bill that supporters say resolves a conflict in Maine’s drug law.

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee heard from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, who says the proposal would correct a conflict between two statutes by once again making possession of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and several other drugs a felony.

Mills says that under a measure that took effect late last year, the punishment for possession is now “a slap on the wrist.”

AUGUSTA, Maine — Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee have unanimously recommended the appointment of Gov. Paul LePage’s chief counsel as a district court judge. But the recommendation came after some tough questioning for Cynthia Montgomery and an impromptu appearance by the governor himself.

PORTLAND, Maine — A 17-year-old high school honor roll student has denied charges that he broke into a Scarborough home and shot a 47-year-old man twice while he was asleep in his family room.

The Portland Press Herald reports the teen denied charges of attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and felony burglary Monday in Portland juvenile court.

Assistant District Attorney Christine Thibeault says she is not yet sure if the teen will be charged as an adult for the Jan. 18 shooting of Bruce Glidden in his Ash Swamp Road home.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine senator wants to create a special police unit to conduct drug trafficking patrols on state roads and state entry points.

Sen. David Burns, a Whiting Republican, says the new unit would include at least three state police officers and a supervising state police officer. Burns is a former state trooper. He says the new unit would make it more difficult for dealers to bring illicit drugs into Maine.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Scarborough police say a 17-year-old male has been arrested in connection with the shooting Monday of a Scarborough man asleep in his home.

Officials say the juvenile was arrested after police received a report of a suspicious vehicle in the driveway of a residence on Pleasant Hill Road early this morning.  The vehicle was similar to the description of a vehicle that was seen Monday near the home of the shooting victim, Bruce Glidden.

Officers located the vehicle on Black Point Road, operating without tail lights. Inside, they spotted a handgun. 

AUGUSTA, Maine — Late in the last session of the Legislature, Gov. Paul LePage surprised many by proposing legislation that would develop a public defender system in the state.

PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine fraud unit has released data regarding welfare benefits theft in 2015.

The Portland Press Herald reports the state Department of Health and Human Services' Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit issued a statement Wednesday saying it uncovered the theft of more than $1.2 million in welfare benefits last year.

The release stated that a record 105 welfare fraud cases were brought by investigators to the Attorney General's Office.

LEWISTON, Maine — Maine state police have arrested two people in Biddeford in connection with a counterfeit check writing scheme. The pair are accused of defrauding retail stores in New England of about $100,000 including $30,000 dollars in Maine.

BANGOR, Maine — A man from Maine accused of mailing cyanide to a man in England is due in court to face new charges.

Investigators say Sidney Kilmartin of Windham advertised and mailed a substance he claimed was cyanide to several suicidal people. The substance was actually Epsom salt.

But they say he mailed the real thing to Andrew Denton of Hull, England, to keep him from telling investigators about his moneymaking scheme. Denton used the cyanide to take his life.

WATERVILLE, Maine — A man from Troy who created a police standoff earlier this month when he threatened suicide may now have to pay police for intervening.

Waterville police have issued a summons to Gary Cross, who parked his truck in the Waterville Police Department parking lot on Dec. 7, armed with a gun. Police successfully negotiated with Cross to surrender, but are now charging him with a civil violation for creating the standoff.

Jenna Mehnert of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Maine says the summons doesn't make any sense.