SOUTH PORTLAND

Convicted sex offender faces gun-possession charges

A convicted sex offender living in South Portland now faces federal charges of being a felon in possession of a gun.

South Portland police and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives arrested Stephen Demo, 46, Thursday morning at his workplace. A neighbor saw him with a rifle earlier this month.

Demo was convicted of two counts of gross sexual assault on a child under 14 and gross sexual misconduct, all felonies that prohibit him from possessing guns.

Police searched Demo’s house at 112 Romano Road on Thursday morning and seized a Remington rifle as well as a black powder rifle, which is not considered a firearm under federal law. Later, Demo directed them to a 10mm pistol hidden in a stereo cabinet.

KENNEBUNK

Police say Biddeford man linked to 20 home burglaries

A Biddeford man is being held in connection with at least 20 home burglaries in Biddeford and Kennebunk, police said.

Kennebunk police arrested Michael Clough, 31, Saturday on charges of burglary and theft, after an extensive investigation into 12 home burglaries in one week in Kennebunk.

Officer Joshua Morneau, an evidence technician, recovered evidence that ultimately linked Clough to more than 20 burglaries in the two communities. Most of the break-ins occurred during the day, according to a release from Kennebunk Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee.

Clough allegedly stole mostly flat-screen televisions, which police say he traded for money or drugs. He has been linked to 13 burglaries in Kennebunk and nine in Biddeford, police said. He is being held in York County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Police said daytime burglaries are on the increase. Would-be burglars often knock first, and if someone answers they say they are looking for someone or offer to do yard work, said Chief Robert MacKenzie. If nobody answers, they usually try to break in from the rear of the house to avoid being seen, he said.

AUGUSTA

House rejects bill to allow religious schools public funds

The Maine House rejected a bill Thursday that would have allowed religious schools to receive public tuition dollars.

The vote was 84-59 and there was no debate.

Gov. Paul LePage proposed the measure as one of four major education bills. Supporters said it was a way to give students more choice as long as the religious schools met standards that apply to public schools.

Religious schools have been barred from receiving public funding since 1981. If the bill had passed, communities with school choice would pay tuition, up to a state-defined maximum, for resident students who attend participating religious schools.

The bill, L.D. 1866, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Governor signs legislation on stiffer elver-fishing fines

Gov. Paul LePage has signed emergency legislation that increases fines for elver fishing violations. The new law carries $2,000 fines for fishing without a license, tampering with elver fishing gear or using untagged gear, and it includes license suspensions for second offenses.

With fishermen receiving as much as $2,000 a pound for baby American eels, Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said the new law should act as a deterrent to illegal fishing.

Fishermen catch the eels in fine-mesh nets as the eels swim up rivers and streams each spring. Fishermen last year received $891 per pound on average for their catch, with prices this year starting out at more than double that. 

Narrow vote in Senate passes resolution on Keystone XL

A day before President Obama’s visit to Maine, the Republican-led state Senate passed a resolution urging the president to support the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The nonbinding resolution passed 17-15 after a long, partisan debate, and still faces a House vote. It came up as Republican presidential candidates criticized the president for blocking the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Obama says Congress refused to give his administration enough time review the project.

In Augusta, Senate supporters of the resolution say it would support thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil as fuel prices remain high. Democrats dismissed the measure as an election-year political gimmick. 

Police charge Augusta girl, 13, in middle school fire incident

A 13-year-old Augusta girl is facing charges in connection with a fire inside a Cony middle school bathroom.

Police say the girl was charged with arson and criminal mischief in connection with the fire earlier this week. Her name has not been made public because of her age.

The police report says the student tried to ignite items placed inside a bathroom toilet.

The Kennebec Journal said the incident was reported around 11 a.m. Monday and police charged the girl later that day. Police say she was carrying a lighter when confronted.

Damage from the fire was limited to the toilet seat and no one was hurt. 

Maine ‘love affair’ continues with Allen’s coffee brandy

Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy remains the top seller in Maine liquor stores, even though sales slipped last year.

Statistics from the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations indicate four sizes of the coffee-flavored liquor produced by M.S. Walker Inc. in Somerville, Mass., finished in the Top 10 in 2011. The top-selling unit was the largest one, 1.75-liter bottles.

Tim Poulin, director of operations, told the Bangor Daily News that there’s a “love affair in Maine” with the liquor. But it may be cooling just a tad.

Officials say that last year 988,123 bottles were sold, with a retail value of $11.2 million. In 2009, the record was set with more than 1 million bottles sold, with a value of nearly $13 million.

PORTLAND

Baldwin man sentenced for giving marijuana to girls

A Baldwin man who was initially charged with paying two underage girls to have sex as he watched pleaded guilty to drug charges Thursday and was sentenced to six months in jail and two years of probation.

Robert Brower pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Unified Court to aggravated furnishing of a drug after admitting that he gave marijuana to the teenage girls last year. He also pleaded guilty to assault for offensive touching, said his attorney, George Hess.

Hess said Brower denied paying the girls to have sex and, in a trial, would have shown that there were reasons for the girls to make false accusations against Brower.

The sentence is for two years, with all but six months suspended. If he commits new crimes while on probation, he could be forced to serve the whole sentence.

Brower, who already has served three months in the Cumberland County Jail, also was fined $875.

CORNISH

Authorities close road as boy causes scare with BB gun

Authorities shut down part of Route 25 Thursday afternoon because of a teenage boy who was target-shooting with a BB gun in the direction of a neighbor’s house.

Maine State Police Lt. Louis Nyitray said a woman called police around 4 p.m. to report that someone who was standing in a backyard next to her home on Main Street was pointing a rifle at the home.

A team of state troopers, along with York County sheriff’s deputies, set up roadblocks at both ends of Main Street, which is part of Route 25. The road was closed for nearly an hour.

When police arrived at the home, they found a 14-year-old boy sitting in a car. “He had been target shooting,” Nyitray said. “And the neighbor’s house was in the line of fire. It was a very, very bad choice on his part.”

The boy was turned over to his parents, and could be charged depending on the outcome of an investigation by juvenile authorities.

NORTH BERWICK

Sole occupant escapes fire that damages small house

Firefighters were called to a home on Ford Quint Road at 2:30 a.m. Thursday for a fire in a small house that firefighters said was about 200 years old.

The lone occupant of the house got out safely but the fire destroyed the interior of the structure. The man was alerted to the fire when he got up to go to the bathroom and smelled smoke, said Fire Chief Brian Gosselin.

The old construction of the house posed challenges Gosselin said because drywall was attached to barn boards and difficult to tear down to get at the flames.

Firefighters from neighboring towns helped put out the blaze, but it was not declared under control until 9 a.m. Gosselin said.

BANGOR

Man charged in connection with thefts at charity event

Police say they have found the man they allege went into a changing room during a charity fundraiser musical at the high school last weekend and stole the personal items of performers while they were on stage.

Police say they tracked down Robert Coulombe, 57, on Wednesday based on tips from the public who saw video surveillance images of the man suspected of raiding the locker room Sunday during the Rotary Club of Bangor’s seventh annual Music Off Broadway show. The event raised money for several local nonprofits.

The man ran away when two performers walked in on him.

Police say Coulombe was charged with misdemeanor theft after agreeing to an interview with police. He will be issued a summons to court. 

Three people indicted in theft of copper wire worth $35,000

A former employee of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and two other people have been indicted on charges of stealing copper wire worth $35,000 from the utility.

A Penobscot County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Stephen Ryan, 65, of Bangor; Leslie Mushero, 33, of LaGrange; and Marc Corey, 42, of Orrington.

Prosecutors say Ryan was employed by Bangor Hydro when the theft occurred, and Corey owns a scrap metal business. Ryan and Mushero are charged with felony theft by unauthorized taking and Corey is charged with felony receiving stolen property.

The suspects face up to five years in prison if convicted.

The wire was taken within the past year from storage and was not in use when it was stolen.

A Bangor Hydro spokeswoman says Ryan no longer works for the company. 

Bangor Daily News apologizes for spoof public-meeting ad

A daily newspaper and state official are apologizing for a spoof draft of a public meeting notice that pokes fun at residents of a coastal island.

The Bangor Daily News says the notice from the Department of Transportation it published on Wednesday should never have been seen by the public.

The notice advertising a meeting in the town of Islesboro to discuss a bridge replacement said in part, “We really don’t care about the bridge. We are just curious about these island folk. Anyone who happens by is invited to disrupt the meeting.”

Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt sent a letter of apology Wednesday to Islesboro residents, calling the ad “an obvious spoof draft that was somehow emailed and published in the paper.”

DOVER-FOXCROFT

Missing Austrian motorcyclist turns up on logging road

The Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department says an Austrian tourist who was missing for a week while on a motorcycle trip in Maine has been found. Officials say Johannes Stummer, 25, was found walking on a logging road Thursday. He was last seen on March 22 in Big Moose Township, north of Moosehead Lake. He was reported missing a day later after he failed to return to the Moose Mountain Inn in Greenville.

Police were interviewing Stummer on Thursday, and it wasn’t immediate clear what happened. He has been traveling on a black Suzuki motorcycle bearing an Austrian license plate.

HANCOCK COUNTY

Camera trained on eagle nest records season’s first egg

A web camera has recorded a bald eagle laying its first egg of the season in eastern Maine.

Biologists at Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham said the egg was laid on Monday in a tree in Hancock County. The egg is expected to hatch in about 35 days.

The institute monitors cameras that provide live 24-hour Internet streaming of two different eagle nests, one in Hancock County and the other along Maine’s midcoast. They can be viewed at www.briloon.org.

The web cameras were set up and sponsored by NextEra Energy Resources and are hosted by Biodiversity Research Institute.