PORTLAND

New York suspect arrives to face murder charge

Anthony Pratt, who is charged with murdering Margarita Fisenko Scott of Westbrook, arrived at the Cumberland County Jail on Wednesday from New York, where he had been held since his arrest on April 2.

Pratt, 19, of Queens, N.Y., is scheduled to appear in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Friday morning for his initial appearance on the murder charge.

Scott, 29, was found dead on Jan. 17 by her estranged husband in the back of her SUV, which he found in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Riverside Street in Portland. Court records indicate that Scott was killed on Nov. 11.

Police say Scott was killed by a single gunshot in a first-floor apartment at 266 West Concord St. in Portland. Neither she nor Pratt, whom she was dating, was a tenant of the apartment.

Police believe the SUV with Scott’s body was in the motel parking lot for an “extended time” before it was found.

KITTERY

State announces reduction in cost of replacing bridge

The Maine Department of Transportation has lowered the estimated cost of replacing the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Maine and New Hampshire from $172 million to $160 million.

The department said Wednesday that a team working on the replacement of the bridge has found $12 million in savings.

The new figure includes the cost of the design, engineering, property acquisition and construction of the new bridge.

The bridge across the Piscataqua River between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H., is scheduled to be replaced in 2014. It’s now closed for repairs because an oil tanker hit it.

A new Memorial Bridge is scheduled to open this summer.

The only bridge open between the two communities is the Piscataqua River Bridge on Interstate 95.

BAR HARBOR

Store owner recounts subduing armed robber

A Millinocket man was jailed after a Bar Harbor store owner wrestled him to the ground and held him for police after he allegedly tried to rob the store.

Richard Simis said he was in the Town Hill Market at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday when a man came in carrying a gun and a roll of duct tape and demanded money.

Rather than give up the cash, Simis told WZON-AM, he lunged at the man and wrestled him to the floor. He said the gun went off a couple of times before he could disarm the man.

A passer-by called 911, and Simis held the man down until police arrived.

Chris Stevens, 39, is facing multiple charges.

AUGUSTA

Fee for registering vehicle due to rise if bill passes

Maine motorists could pay higher vehicle registration fees if a bill that has final House approval becomes law.

The House voted 89-57 Tuesday to allow an increase in the motor vehicle licensing and registration service fees collected and retained by municipalities. The renewal of a license or registration would increase from $3 to $5, and the allowable service fee for a new license or registration would increase from $4 to $6. The bill, L.D. 405, awaits final Senate action.

Republicans blame majority Democrats for the proposed increases and say they are “raiding the pockets of hardworking Mainers to the tune of $3 million.”

 

Plan to tax PAC donations raises free-speech concerns

A Democratic lawmaker has a new idea for raising state revenue: Tax PACs.

Rep. Terry Hayes’ bill, L.D. 815, would impose a tax on 5 percent of the amount contributed to political action committees.

Hayes, of Buckfield, told the Taxation Committee on Tuesday that if there had been such a tax last year revenues would have been around $382,000, money that could be used to cover expenses to regulate PACs. Hayes’ research shows no other state has such a tax.

The bill drew questions about whether the tax would be an unconstitutional tax on free speech. Hayes says that if she buys a T-shirt with a political slogan on it, she still pays a sales tax.

The bill drew no other supporters, opponents or neutral comment.

 

State files suit to prevent deterioration of Arsenal

The state is suing the owners of the Kennebec Arsenal, saying the historic compound in downtown Augusta has been allowed to deteriorate while it awaits planned renovations for commercial, retail and residential use.

The complaint by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services and Maine Historic Preservation Commission, which was announced Wednesday, names Main Street I, LLC and Niemann Capital LLC, the current owners of the arsenal property.

The case, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, claims the defendants violated a covenant by neglecting the property, resulting in significant deterioration. It seeks damages for the cost of repairs and return of the property to the state if the conditions aren’t met.

An emailed message to Tom Niemann of Niemann Capital was not immediately returned Wednesday.

BANGOR

Waterville men sentenced for drug-trafficking roles

A federal judge has sentenced two Waterville men to prison for their roles in a drug-trafficking ring.

Patrick Hanson, 22, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to five years in prison after previously pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges involving cocaine and oxycodone.

Jesse Jones, 25, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for his role.

Prosecutors say Hanson and Jones were part of a drug ring in which cocaine and prescription drugs were sent from New York to be distributed in central Maine.

More than 20 people in central Maine and New York were charged in connection with the scheme.

 

Pittston man admits to theft of pension payments

A Pittston man has pleaded guilty to theft of more than $83,000 in federal pension funds by continuing to receive retirement payments even after he returned to work.

Federal prosecutors say Gerald E. Bailey, 68, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Authorities say Bailey retired from Springfield Terminal Railway in 2004, began receiving his pension, then returned to work for Maine Eastern Railroad from 2007 to 2010. To avoid detection, Bailey used another person’s name and Social Security number on his time cards.

He received $83,398 in pension funds that he was not entitled to receive.

Bailey faces as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

 

Carmel man, 30, sentenced in beating of year-old girl

A Carmel man who authorities say beat his girlfriend’s 1-year-old daughter in the parking lot of a Bangor hospital has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Scott Peavey was also sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation and ordered not to drink alcohol.

Peavey, 30, pleaded guilty last month to charges of assault on a child.

Police say Peavey struck the girl several times in the face in a car in the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Hospital. The girl suffered bruises to her face. Police say he was drunk at the time.

WABI-TV reports that Peavey’s lawyer thought the sentence was appropriate. Peavey apologized in court and said he hopes to get the help he needs.

OLD FORGE, N.Y.

Two women launch canoe on lengthy trip to Fort Kent

There’s still ice on some lakes and ponds but the first paddlers have begun making their way from Old Forge, N.Y., to Fort Kent, Maine.

Traveling by canoe, Emma Carlson of Farmington, Maine, and Emily Rooney of Fairfax, Vt., launched Tuesday and plan to complete the 740-mile journey through four states and one Canadian province in 40 days.

Kate Williams of the nonprofit Northern Forest Canoe Trail says the first paddlers setting forth from Old Forge after the ice melts is becoming a rite of spring.

The group says the women will be traveling without aid of cellphones, computers or GPS. They’ll be communicating via postcards with students at two schools in Maine.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Maine’s two senators push American-made footwear

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine have written a letter signed by 13 other senators asking that the Department of Defense be required to buy only American-made athletic footwear for military personnel.

The letter, dated April 19, asks President Obama to direct the department to follow a 1941 law requiring the military to buy American-made products for soldiers whenever possible.

As a rule, the Defense Department buys shoes and clothing that are made in America, the senators said. The department used to treat athletic footwear the same way, but in recent years it has been giving military personnel a cash allowance to buy their own footwear.

Collins and King said the military’s policy has jeopardized jobs in states such as Maine and Massachusetts, where Boston-based New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. has offices and plants. New Balance is the last major American athletic footwear manufacturer.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine has been calling for the military to buy U.S.-made athletic footwear for a couple of years.