HOULTON

Orient man accused of aiding slaying suspect pleads guilty

A 69-year-old man accused of helping a young man charged in a triple killing destroy evidence before driving him to New Hampshire pleaded guilty Wednesday under an agreement with prosecutors.

Robert Strout of Orient entered guilty pleas in Aroostook County Superior Court to charges of hindering apprehension and arson for his role in the June 2010 slayings in the town of Amity.

By pleading guilty, Strout acknowledged helping Thayne Ormsby, 21, of Ellsworth, set fire to one of the victim’s vehicles and dispose of a knife before driving Ormsby to New Hampshire.

Under the plea agreement, Robert Strout faces 2-4 years in prison when he’s sentenced at a later date. He was released Wednesday after making bail.

Ormsby, who’s awaiting a trial that could be up to two years away, faces three counts of murder in the stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, Ryan’s 10-year-old son and neighbor Jason Dehahn.

Shannon Ryan, brother of Jesse Ryan and son of Jeffrey Ryan, said he and his sister weren’t told of the plea agreement, and got only 24 hours notice of the hearing, the Bangor Daily News reported. “I cannot tell you right now how angry I am,” Ryan said from Texas.

Strout also pleaded guilty to aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs and violation of bail, charges that arose when he sold Oxycodone pills to his 24-year-old grandson while on bail of $20,000 in cash or $50,000 in property.

AUGUSTA

Man dies after asking a question at public hearing

Paul Cote, the man who suffered an apparent medical problem at a public meeting Tuesday night, died at the scene.

Personnel from Knowlton, Hewins, Roberts Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, took Cote, 48, of Sidney, from Gilbert School Elementary School in Augusta after efforts to revive him failed.

Cote was stricken almost immediately after asking a question at a preliminary public hearing regarding highway improvements to Interstate 95 Exit 113 and other connecting roads. 

UMaine payroll increased 29 percent from 2003 to 2010

A website that has databases of Maine public employees’ pay says total payroll and benefits in the University of Maine System increased by 29 percent during the eight years ending in 2010.

MaineOpenGov.org says those costs rose from $258 million in 2003 to $333 million last year. The figures update earlier UMaine payroll data, which did not contain overtime and stipend data, and included just three years of spending information.

The updated figures show the number of employees earning more than $100,000 in total compensation increased from 399 in 2003, to 1,018 in 2010. The overall 29 percent increase in payroll and benefits accompanied tuition hikes of 35 percent.

MaineOpenGov.org is a website maintained by the conservative public policy organization Maine Heritage Policy Center.

LINCOLN

Man convicted in 2002 meth lab case faces new charges

A Maine man convicted nearly a decade ago of running a methamphetamine laboratory in his Lincoln home is facing new drug charges.

Police say 55-year-old Joseph Mansur was charged after police allegedly found bath salts, methamphetamine and cocaine in his car after he was stopped for speeding on Friday.

Mansur was convicted in 2002 of operating a methamphetamine lab. He spent two years in prison, the Bangor Daily News reported.

BIDDEFORD

Boat builder hiring workers to build boats for Japanese

A boat builder is hiring back workers idled by the weak economy to build boats for Japanese fishermen who were hurt by the tsunami.

Operation Blessing International helped to facilitate the order for General Marine Inc. of Biddeford on behalf of two fishing Japanese guilds that together lost 5,000 boats.

General Marine, which makes workboats and recreational boats, is custom-making hulls that are unlike anything used by U.S. fishermen. The 19-foot boats are versatile enough to drag nets to catch fish or to be used to tend to oyster and seaweed farms.

Owner Stacey Raymond said the order will enable the company to hire back six to eight workers. All told, the order calls for production of 20 boats.

ELLSWORTH

Bath salts increase prompts more stun guns for officers

More law enforcement agencies are acquiring stun guns to help officers deal with suspects using the illegal drug known as bath salts.

Last week, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department got the go-ahead from county commissioners to acquire stun guns for its patrol officers, while the top police official in Lincoln is considering whether to ask the local Town Council for the same approval.

Bath salts were outlawed in Maine earlier this year.

Hancock County Sheriff Lt. Pat Kane says people using bath salts have shown unusual surges of strength and less sensitivity to pain, the Bangor Daily News reported. 

— From staff and news services