PORTLAND

Eight local businesses cited for selling alcohol to minors

Portland police have cited eight city businesses for allegedly selling alcohol to minors.

Cmdr. Gary Rogers said the businesses will be required to pay an administrative fine – an amount Rogers said would be determined by the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages.

David Heidrich, a spokesman for the bureau, said each business could face a fine up to $1,800 – provided it is a first offense. However, Heidrich said the state has been levying fines of $550 for first-time offenders in hopes of encouraging better employee training and compliance.

Repeat offenders could have their liquor license suspended and could face much higher fines if the violations are not addressed, Heidrich said.

Police used several college students under the age of 21, who tried to buy alcohol at 56 establishments Saturday. Those establishments included bars, convenience stores and restaurants throughout the city. The businesses were selected at random. Only eight establishments failed to ask the students for proper identification, according to Portland police.

Cited for sale of alcohol to a minor were:

• Hannaford supermarket, 295 Forest Ave.

• Mobil gas station, 518 Forest Ave.

• Walgreens pharmacy, 127 Marginal Way

• The Crow Bar, 189 Congress St.

• Congress Street Bar and Grill, 617 Congress St.

• Local 188, 685 Congress St.

• Frosty Pint, 965 Forest Ave.

• Ruski’s, 212 Danforth St.

BETHEL

Boy hurt when snowmobile driven by mother hits trees

Authorities in Maine say a 9-year-old Massachusetts boy was injured when his mother lost control of the snowmobile they were riding.

A spokesman for the Maine Warden Service said 47-year-old Ann Vinton of Weymouth, Mass., was driving a rented snowmobile in Bethel with her son as a passenger on Tuesday morning when she lost control, left the trail and struck several small trees.

The boy suffered facial cuts. He was taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway where he was treated and released.

Vinton was riding with her husband and second child who were on another snowmobile. No one else was hurt.

Authorities told the Sun Journal that operator inexperience was a contributing factor in the accident. No charges are expected.

SOUTH PORTLAND

State investigating failure of bridge’s span to close

The Maine Department of Transportation will investigate what caused a span on the northbound side of the Casco Bay Bridge – the side that allows traffic to enter Portland from South Portland – to become stuck Wednesday night.

The span became stuck and would not close around 7 p.m. but workers were able to get it to return to a level position about 20 minutes later.

Despite the fact that traffic was flowing smoothly again, MDOT spokesman Ted Talbot said an electrician will examine the bridge’s operating system to determine what caused the bridge span to malfunction.

Talbot said there are dozens of fuses – called limit switches – in the bridge, which are designed to detect problems such as improper alignment of decks.

One of those switches may have detected an issue and stopped the span from closing. Sometimes the buildup of ice and snow can cause decks to become misaligned.

The Casco Bay Bridge spans the Fore River and connects the cities of Portland and South Portland.

BANGOR

Three arrested in connection with car burglaries and theft

Two Maine men and a 17-year-old are facing charges in connection to reports of car burglaries and theft.

Police have arrested three suspects after responding to phone calls Wednesday morning that three men appeared to be breaking into cars.

Police say 21-year-old Bryce Celino and 20-year-old Joshua Soule are facing charges of burglary to a motor vehicle and theft. The 17-year-old is facing charges of receiving stolen property, possession of dangerous knives and illegal possession of prescription pills.

Officers also recovered stolen property from the suspects they believe was taken from Bangor area neighborhoods.

The suspects are being held at the Penobscot County Jail. It wasn’t immediately known if they had lawyers.

AUGUSTA

State hires private lawyers in CDC whistleblower lawsuit

The state is paying $300 per hour for private lawyers to defend the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention from a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee.

The Sun Journal reported that Attorney General Janet Mills authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to spend up to $50,000 on outside attorneys after a pair of attorneys in her office asked to be recused. CDC Director Sheila Pinette has retained a lawyer, who’s being paid $333 an hour, subject to the same $50,000 cap.

The lawsuit by former CDC official Sharon Leahy-Lind alleges that officials retaliated against her when she refused to destroy documents.

Hiring private lawyers isn’t unprecedented. A spokesman for Mills said the state has hired outside lawyers 73 times in 2012 and 2013.

BUCKSPORT

Woman admits embezzling about $3 million from clients

A Bucksport woman accused of improperly transferring nearly $3 million from financial clients has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and filing false tax returns.

Lynn M. Bowden, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court and faces up to 30 years in prison and significant fines on the embezzlement charge, U.S. attorney Thomas E. Delahanty announced Wednesday. Bowden also faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the false tax return charge.

Bowden was accused of making 108 deposits and transfers of customer funds into her personal accounts from April 4, 2005, to Sept. 26, 2012, while she worked at Merrill Merchants Bank and Chittenden Corp. Those deposits and transfers totaled more than $2.99 million, according to Delahanty.

“She used all of the money for herself and for members of her family,” Delahanty said in a prepared statement.

Bowden also failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service that she had received that income, causing a tax loss of more than $750,000 from 2007 to 2011, Delahanty said.

Bowden was fired from the bank in October 2012. Before she was fired, she managed more than 200 trust and investment management accounts.

Bowden will be sentenced after a pre-sentence investigation report is competed by the U.S. Probation Office.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS. 

— From staff and wire reports