PORTLAND

Auburn man, 41, in court to answer child porn charge

An Auburn man has been arrested on a federal warrant charging him with possession of child pornography.

Stephen Pennington, 41, made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. Pennington was indicted last week by a federal grand jury for allegedly having electronic devices with images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit activity on or about May 17, 2012.

The arrest warrant was issued on Sept. 11. The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday. Pennington is slated to return to court on Thursday for a detention hearing. If convicted, he will face up to 10 years in federal prison.

BANGOR

Inmate gets 25 years for prison drug operation

A California man has been sentenced in Maine to 25 years in prison for operating an interstate drug ring while serving time in a California prison, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Mark Razo, 24, of El Monte., Calif., was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

A jury convicted Razo following a five-day trial in March on one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, and three counts of unlawful use of a telephone.

Razo used contraband cellphones from inside a prison in Jamestown, Calif., where he was serving time for another drug-related conviction, to set up drug transactions, recruit couriers and arrange for the drugs be transported, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine.

His operation was uncovered in 2011 by drug agents in Portland, who learned while listening to a court-approved wiretap that Razo had arranged for a 4-pound methamphetamine shipment to Iowa, which law enforcement personnel later seized in Ottumwa.

The agents further learned that Razo arranged for other drug shipments across the U.S.

STARKS

Man, 84, killed on Route 43 when struck by town truck

An 84-year-old Anson man who had been picking up bottles along a road was killed instantly Tuesday morning when he was hit by a dump truck on Route 43 just south of the Starks-Anson town line.

Walter Cowan had stopped his 2006 Chevrolet Trail Blazer on the southbound side of the road about a half-mile from the junction of Route 148 in Anson, leaving the vehicle partially in the road, said Dale Lancaster, chief deputy of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.

The dump truck, a 2005 International registered to the town of Starks, was driven by Ronald Giguere, 71, of Solon, a town employee.

Lancaster said police think Cowan was walking back to the driver’s side of the Trail Blazer when a tractor-trailer, going north on Route 43, approached the area.

Giguere, driving the dump truck, tried to go around the parked Trail Blazer but suddenly maneuvered to avoid a collision with the oncoming tractor-trailer and hit Cowan, Lancaster said. The road was closed in both directions from 10:40 a.m., when the accident happened, until about 2 p.m.

This is no indication that alcohol or speed were factors in the accident, Lancaster said. He said the District Attorney’s Office will examine the accident report by the sheriff’s department, as is routine after a fatal accident.

WESTBROOK

Drug overdose suspected in incident involving inmate

A Cumberland County Jail inmate who was found unconscious Tuesday afternoon at a job site in Westbrook had to be hospitalized for what authorities are describing as a drug overdose.

Capt. Steve Butts of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the inmate, 43-year-old Robert Louis Tucker, is a work release prisoner. He had been assigned to a painting detail.

Tucker was found around 2:50 p.m. with a needle near him, Butts said in a press release. The release does not say where the incident occurred.

Tucker was transported by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he received treatment for a drug overdose. He was listed in stable condition Tuesday night.

Tucker is a state prisoner who is being held at the county jail on charges related to a burglary. The incident is under investigation by the sheriff’s office and the Westbrook Police Department.

AUGUSTA

State to award $100,000 for tree-planting projects

Maine will award $100,000 to communities, educational groups and nonprofit organizations for forestry projects such as planting trees in parks or along streets.

The grants are being funded by the U.S. Forest Service and made available through Project Canopy, community forestry program of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Communities can use the grants to respond to invasive pest threats in trees like the emerald ash borer or carry out community beautification projects.

Franklin County loses bid to reopen full-service jail

The State Board of Corrections voted 5-2 Tuesday to deny Franklin County officials’ request to reopen the county jail as a full-service facility.

Board members who voted against it said they were concerned that other state jails would be hurt if the jail opened and Franklin County kept the $600,000 it pays into the unified jail system to house inmates elsewhere.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols and other county officials have lobbied the board to change the jail’s status since the sheriff took office in January, but the complaints date back to a 2009 law that unified state jails and changed the Franklin County jail’s status to that of a 72-hour holding facility.