January 16, 2013

Dispatches

From staff and news services

JAY

Teenager dies from injuries sustained in single-car crash

Police say a Livermore Falls teenager who was injured Sunday in a car crash in Jay has died.

Chief Larry White Sr. said Megan Baril, 17, died about 11 a.m. Monday at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston from injuries sustained in Sunday’s crash.

Police said Baril was a front-seat passenger in a car driven by Alyssa Lamontagne, 17, that struck a utility pole. White said Baril was not wearing a seat belt.

Lamontagne, and a second passenger, Sheila Jordan, 16, were taken to the hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries.

All three teenagers are from Livermore Falls.

White told the Sun Journal that speed appears to be a factor, but the crash remains under investigation and no charges have been filed.

PORTLAND

USM finds $1.3 million more for first-time students in fall

The University of Southern Maine will award an additional $1.3 million in scholarships for students who enroll in college for the first time this fall.

The scholarships, which will be for $1,500 to $12,000 per year for as long as four years, will be awarded to students who are in the top 30 percent of their high school class, meet minimums on the SAT or ACT tests and need financial aid, USM said in a news release.

Last year, USM gave $1 million to first-time students – on top of $7 million it awarded in financial aid – which translated to 356 scholarships, USM said.

“Anything we can do to help make college more affordable is a great use of university resources,” USM President Theodora Kalikow said in a prepared statement.

According to the news release, the money for the new scholarships is coming from “reallocations of existing university funds.”

Eligible applicants for admission will be automatically considered for the scholarships.

For more information, contact USM’s Office of Undergraduate Admission at 780-5670 or usmadm@usm.maine.edu.

Nonprofit health center getting $680,000 grant

The Portland Community Health Center on Park Avenue is getting a $680,000 federal grant to expand its services, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said Tuesday.

The center serves about 3,000 patients annually, providing primary medical and mental health care. Services are provided regardless of ability to pay.

A sliding scale is used for patients who can afford to pay.

The center had been operated by the city since 2009, but became an independent nonprofit at the beginning of the year.

Leslie Brancato, chief executive officer of the Health Center, credited Pingree with helping the center navigate red tape that threatened short-term funding needed to stay open.

Pingree credited the center as being a lifeline for thousands.

“Without it, many people would go without basic health care, and that’s especially true during tough economic times and when state programs are being cut,” Pingree said in the news release.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Mainers warned about cars damaged by Sandy flooding

Maine residents are being warned to stay away from deals on cars that appear too good to be true.

Experts say some of the estimated 250,000 vehicles damaged during flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy are starting to show up on the market.

Some of the vehicles may have spent a week under sea water.

Chris Basso, spokesman for Carfax, a company that provides used-car history reports for buyers and dealers, told the Sun Journal the vehicles may look pristine but are riddled with problems that may not show up for months.

He called those cars “ticking time bombs.”

Maine law requires car sellers to disclose whether the vehicle has sustained considerable damage. But there are loopholes to the law.

MADISON

Charged with drunk driving, father held on $10,000 bail

A Madison man charged with driving drunk with two children in his car has been ordered held on $10,000 bail.

James Labonte made his first appearance in court Monday on several charges in connection with his weekend arrest, including operating under the influence, eluding police and endangering the life of a child.

Police said they originally tried to stop Labonte for a traffic violation on Saturday afternoon, but he refused to pull over.

Instead, police said, he continued driving another mile and a half to his father’s house, then jumped out of his moving vehicle and fled on foot. The vehicle hit a building.

The children, ages 5 and 7, were unhurt and are in the custody of their mother.

KITTERY

Shipyard worker’s shock sparks workplace probe

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard says workplace safety officials are looking into an incident in which a worker received an electrical shock.

Shipyard spokeswoman Danna Eddy said the injured worker was expected to return to duty Tuesday.
She told the Portsmouth Herald that paramedics from the shipyard fire department responded around 9:30 p.m. Monday to the structural shop.

The victim was taken to a hospital as a precaution, and was later released.

Eddy said an investigation is under way.

BANGOR

Quebec man ordered back home for lying to buy guns

A Quebec man was sentenced to more than a year behind bars for lying to buy firearms in Augusta last year, authorities said.

Jeremy Gertsch, 35, of Oka, Quebec, was sentenced to nearly 16 months in prison Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. also sentenced Gertsch to three year of supervised release.

Gertsch pleaded guilty in September to making false statements in connection with the firearms purchase, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone in a release.

Gertsch rented a room at an Augusta hotel in January 2011 and then acquired a Maine driver’s license, listing the hotel’s address as his home. Gertsch used the license to buy eight handguns from four dealers in the Augusta and Waterville area, Malone said.

Six of the handguns were semiautomatic.

Gertsch took the guns to Boston’s South Station, where he bought a one-way ticket to Montreal.
Gertsch was indicted in September and arrested in Canada in early October. He was extradited back to the United States, where he has remained in custody.

Woodcock sentenced Gertsch to time served, just less than 16 months, and ordered him to return to Canada and not re-enter the country without permission from the U.S. Probation Office.

ELIOT

Teen faces terrorizing count for message on school wall

Police say a 13-year-old middle school student who scratched a threatening message onto a bathroom wall in southern Maine has been charged with terrorizing.

Police said the message left in a bathroom at Marshwood Middle School referred to people being killed on a specific date. The youth was charged Sunday night.

Eliot Chief Theodor Short told the Portsmouth Herald that he’s happy students came forward, and said the conduct shouldn’t be taken lightly.

SKOWHEGAN

Retired lawyer, 79, indicted for trying to wire fake funds

A retired lawyer from Skowhegan has been indicted on charges that he passed counterfeit money at a Western Union wire-transfer outlet in August.

Charles H. Veilleux, 79, faces a single count of aggravated forgery for allegedly attempting to wire fake money from the Hannaford supermarket at Fairgrounds Market Place in August, according to Skowhegan police.

He allegedly tried to pass a total of $1,100 at the Hannaford location and at another Western Union agent, at Kmart in Waterville, according to Skowhegan police.

The indictment covers only the Skowhegan case.

Veilleux faces a felony charge of aggravated forgery, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

His lawyer, Philip Mohlar of Skowhegan, said Veilleux is the victim of an international scam in which perpetrators send phony money with the promise of financial gain if the victim forwards money to a third party.

The scam usually involves a plea to help someone who has gotten into trouble in a foreign county and needs cash immediately.

Mohlar said Veilleux had no idea the money he sent was counterfeit: “It was counterfeit money that was sent to him; he thought he was wiring authentic bills.”

Skowhegan police Officer Timothy Williams, who handled the investigation, said Veilleux first tried to spend the money, then twice tried to wire money.

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