January 25

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

Court system warns of scam involving fake phone calls

Maine’s court system is warning about a scam in which residents receive telephone calls from someone pretending to be with the court system seeking to collect a fine.

Courts in Bridgton, Alfred, Auburn and Fort Kent have received reports from residents reporting that they received a call from someone claiming to be a court employee and that the person has missed a fine payment or court date or that a warrant has been issued for the resident’s arrest. The caller seeks to get personal information.

Moreover, the caller uses a mechanism by which caller ID indicates the call is coming from a Maine court, Mary Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said in a statement.

The technique, called “Caller ID Spoofing,” can be used to display any telephone number regardless of where the call actually originated, and it is becoming more common.

Maine courts do not use the telephone or email to collect fines and no one with the court system will request credit card or Social Security numbers over the telephone or by email, Lynch said. Court communications come through the U.S. Postal Service.

Those concerned about a possible fine should call their local courthouse and speak to a court clerk, Lynch said.

Judge rules former patient guilty of assaulting worker

A judge has ruled that a former patient at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta was prompted by anger and not mental illness when he attacked a worker last year, leaving a pen embedded in her hand.

The judge issued an eight-page decision Thursday, convicting Mark Murphy of elevated aggravated assault, after a jury-waived trial in October.

The judge agreed with prosecutors, who said the 48-year-old Murphy attacked the mental health worker because he was angry at being denied permission to visit his parents, the Kennebec Journal reported.

Murphy’s attorney said his client was not criminally responsible for the attack because he had been growing increasingly paranoid for weeks.

The lawyer said Murphy is remorseful.

Murphy faces up to 30 years in prison at sentencing.

LePage seeking applications to fill seat on supreme court

Gov. Paul LePage says he’s looking for applications for an anticipated vacancy on Maine’s supreme court.

Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon Levy is awaiting U.S. Senate confirmation to the federal bench. Last week, his nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee.

LePage said he’s looking forward to finding a candidate “of the highest ethical, legal and intellectual caliber.”

The governor’s judicial selection committee is seeking additional candidates and will accept applications until Feb. 15.

HEBRON

Spilled heating oil leached into wetlands, DEP reports

State environmental officials say most of the 1,900 gallons of heating oil that spilled at a Hebron school last month leached into nearby wetlands.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection said the oil does not pose a threat to nearby Bog Brook, which flows downstream into Minot and Mechanic Falls.

The spill at Hebron Station School occurred Dec. 24 when the gauge on the school’s oil tank malfunctioned, showing the tank was empty when it was not. When the delivery driver tried to fill it, the oil spilled.

About 135 students were relocated to another school for about three weeks, but have since returned.

No contamination has been found in the school’s well.

PORTLAND

New state rules announced for scallop fishermen, divers

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has agreed to allow scallop fishermen and divers to continue working three days a week in the area around Cobscook Bay.

Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced the new rules, which took effect Friday, following a meeting with scallop fishermen and after getting an update from Resource Management Coordinator Trisha DeGraaf.

DeGraaf said there have been strong landings because of a healthier fishery. She said that’s the result of intensive management efforts during the past five years and favorable environmental conditions.

The rules allow draggers to fish different areas on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Divers will be able to fish different areas on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

AUBURN

Minot man pleads insanity after rampage, police chase

A Minot man accused of going on a rampage in which he torched his own home as well as his estranged wife’s home before getting involved in a high-speed chase with police has pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

A lawyer for Michael Callahan, 45, said Thursday his client was taking more than a dozen prescribed medications for his deteriorating physical health due to multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety and paranoia about his failing marriage at the time of the rampage last May.

Callahan is facing charges including attempted murder and three counts of arson, the Sun Journal reported.

Prosecutors say as well as burning the homes, Callahan was involved in a high-speed chase with police and even tried to run down a deputy at one point.

FALMOUTH

School board announces superintendent candidate

The Falmouth School Board announced Friday it has a candidate for superintendent.

Geoff Bruno, executive director of curriculum, instruction and accountability for the Saugus, Mass., school system, was the only candidate selected by the school board.

Parents and community members can meet Bruno when he visits Falmouth on Jan. 29. He will meet with the public at 4:30 p.m in the Falmouth Elementary School Library.

“Due to a combination of factors, including the high standards set by the school committee, only one individual will be brought before the public at this time,” Andrew Kinley, the board’s chairman, said in a public message announcing Bruno’s visit.

Outgoing Superintendent Barbara Powers announced her retirement in October.

She served the district for 16 years, the last five in the top post.

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