PORTLAND — Nine minutes in the Forest Avenue post office got Frank Lapomarda four years in prison.

Lapomarda, a convicted sex offender, received that sentence Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court for a probation violation. A condition of his probation barred him from entering the section of the city bordered by Congress Street, Forest Avenue, Marginal Way and Franklin Street.

Calling the area the “zone of danger,” Deputy District Attorney Meg Elam said it’s where Lapomarda, 69, targeted three homeless women whom he sexually assaulted in the period from 2002 to 2007. The area includes Preble Street and other social service agencies that support the homeless.

Last year, Lapomarda pleaded guilty to three counts of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact in those cases. He was ordered to serve 2½ years of a 20-year prison sentence and six years of probation, and was given credit for the time he had served in jail since his arrest in 2007.

On Tuesday, Elam asked Justice Roland Cole to order Lapomarda to serve the remaining 17½ years of his sentence. Clifford Strike, Lapomarda’s lawyer, said it was “abusive” for Elam to make that request and noted that it was his client’s first probation violation.

“I didn’t do any of these things people are saying,” Lapomarda said before Cole imposed the sentence. “I’m a decent person.”

Lapomarda was arrested for the probation violation after an off-duty police officer recognized him in the post office on the evening of Feb. 28.

Sgt. Robert Doherty testified that Lapomarda didn’t appear to have any business in the building, which Doherty said is a place the transient population uses for pay phones and to escape bad weather.

Doherty said Lapomarda was looking at postal displays, “lurking” and “pacing.” Doherty identified a man seen on surveillance video entering the building at 7:06 p.m. and leaving at 7:15 p.m. as Lapomarda.

Strike suggested that Doherty couldn’t know whether the man had business at the post office. Doherty wasn’t there the entire time the man was, Strike said, and while the man in the video didn’t have mail in his hands, he may have had some in his pockets.

Lapomarda testified he was at the Old Country Buffet in South Portland until closing that night – he thought that was 8:30 p.m. – and drove directly to the hotel on Park Avenue where he was living.

Lapomarda made his way between his seat and the witness stand in a slow, limping gait, with his left hand holding the back of his thigh. His voice was scratchy and so quiet that Strike had to repeat his barely audible remarks.

Strike repeated questions for Lapomarda while he was on the witness stand, and Lapomarda was later given a headset to help him hear.

Christopher Arbour, Lapomarda’s probation officer, testified that he had seen him limping and acting impaired, only to see him appearing fine later.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]