BIDDEFORD

Man charged with robbery in theft of bag of marijuana

A Biddeford man faces charges of robbery and criminal threatening after he allegedly stole a bag of marijuana during a drug deal while wielding a replica of a gun, police said Tuesday.

Police were called to Red Rocket Smoke Shop on Birch Street at 9:17 p.m. Monday for a report of a man pointing a gun at the caller.

Police were told that Henry Williams Jr., 19, sold a small amount of marijuana to Michael Picardi, 26. Picardi allegedly pulled what appeared to be a gun from his waistband and took the drug without paying for it, police said. One of Williams’ friends followed Picardi, who at one point pulled out his gun and pointed it at the witness, police said.

Picardi told police he was followed and threatened with a gun.

During a search, police said they found the marijuana in Picardi’s possession and also a BB gun, a replica of a Walther PPK, tucked into his boxer shorts.

Picardi was charged with robbery and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and is being held at the York County Jail on $5,000 bail.

Williams, whose address wasn’t provided by police, was charged with trafficking in marijuana and is being held on $1,000 bail.

RUMFORD

Three men charged with trafficking in heroin

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and local police have arrested three men accused of being involved in a heroin trafficking network in Rumford and Bethel.

Police arrested William Heller, 61, of Rumford, Jason Howe, 26, of Bethel and David Cherkis, 45, of Greenwood earlier this week on felony drug trafficking charges.

Authorities accuse the men of participating in a network that was distributing an estimated 500 doses of heroin per month in the Rumford and Bethel areas.

Agents seized more than 300 doses of heroin, money from drug sales, and drug materials at Heller’s home and additional drugs, money and materials from Howe’s home.

Howe was released on bail Monday. Heller and Cherkis remain in custody. It was not immediately known if the men were being represented by lawyers.

SACO

Man charged with trying to sell welfare card for cash

Saco police charged a local man with trying to sell his EBT card benefits.

Police were notified by Shaw’s Supermarket at 4 p.m. Monday that a man was trying to sell an electronic benefits transfer card, which is used to collect welfare funds. An undercover officer responded and Donchian Murray, 21, of 81 North St. offered to sell him the remaining balance on the card of $70 for $35, half of its value, police said.

Murray was charged with illegal trafficking of an electronic benefits transfer card, a Class D misdemeanor, police said.

Murray was unable to post $560 bail and is being held at the York County Jail pending a May 28 court date.

STOCKTON SPRINGS

Police identify man found dead in Penobscot River

Police have identified the body pulled from the Penobscot River in Stockton Springs last weekend.

The Waldo County Sheriff’s Department said the medical examiner identified the man pulled from the river on Sunday as Cecil Worster, 46, of Bangor. Someone spotted the body at about 11 a.m.

Worster had been reported missing to police in late November.

Police said the death remains under investigation but at this point it does not appear suspicious.

AUGUSTA

Senate gives final approval to relocating highway signs

A bill that would remove or relocate dozens of informational signs along Maine’s interstate highways is heading to Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The Democratic-led Senate gave final approval to the bill in a 20-15 vote on Tuesday. The House approved it earlier this week.

Maine officials say the state must remove signs for things like colleges, parks and recreational attractions next to the state’s highways to conform to federal rules. They say the state is at risk of losing millions of dollars in highway funding if it doesn’t comply.

But some lawmakers and municipal officials say that the signs are necessary to attract visitors. They say their towns will lose out on tourism revenue if the signs come down.

 

Bill to block virtual charter schools fails in House

A bill that seeks to halt the establishment of virtual charter schools in Maine has failed final passage in the House of Representatives.

The House voted 83-54 in favor of the bill on Tuesday, falling short of the two-thirds support that emergency measures, or bills that take effect immediately, need for final passage. It faces a final Senate vote.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland, would prohibit the Maine Charter School Commission from authorizing the operation of a virtual charter school until the Legislature approves a measure allowing it.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed another bill that would have put a moratorium on virtual charter schools and directed officials to develop a state-run virtual charter academy. The veto was sustained by the Democratic-led Senate.

 

House approves measure to add preschool programs

The Maine House has given final approval to a bill designed to boost the number of public preschool programs in the state.

The measure endorsed Tuesday directs the Department of Education to use $4 million it receives in casino and slot machine revenues to cover districts’ startup costs for the programs for 4-year-olds.

Democrats say about 60 percent of Maine’s 172 districts with elementary schools offer some kind of pre-kindergarten.

The original measure sought to set up a process to expand pre-kindergarten programs to every school in the state. But the Education Department said that districts can’t afford to do that and that the decision should be left up to local officials.

The bill faces a final Senate vote before being sent to Gov. Paul LePage.