February 15, 2013

Maine man gets 90 days in jail for threatening judge

A court security officer overhears the South China man threaten to shoot both his ex-wife and Judge Beth Dobson.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A South China man will spend 90 days in jail for threatening to shoot a district court judge.

Shawn R. Breton, 37, pleaded guilty in Kennebec County Superior Court to a charge of terrorizing and domestic-violence terrorizing Wednesday at a hearing watched by Judge Beth Dobson, a target of those threats last Aug. 22.

Breton was leaving the Augusta District Court building after being denied a protection-from-abuse order he sought against his ex-wife.

A Kennebec County sheriff's deputy who was working as a court security officer overheard Breton threaten to shoot both his ex-wife, Jessie Breton, and Dobson.

"Ultimately, he was blowing off steam, and that was a big mistake," Breton's attorney, Kevin Sullivan, said Thursday. "He was frustrated with the court because she wasn't allowing him to see his children."

Breton, who was not armed, then left the Augusta District Court building on State Street but returned shortly afterward and was arrested by Sgt. Joel Eldridge, court security supervisor with the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office.

An affidavit by Eldridge, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, said Dobson had had problems with Breton previously. "He escalates his behavior and gets irritated easily," Eldridge wrote.

Breton initially was held in the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $10,000 bail, and was later freed. He is to report to jail next week to begin serving his sentence, and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said he will serve the full 90 days.

Wednesday's plea came after jurors had been selected for Breton's trial.

Sullivan said he and the prosecutor's office had discussed the plea and sentencing recommendation but waited to hear from Breton's ex-wife.

"We wanted to make sure we heard from the victim before going forward with any plea deal," Maloney said. "This was acceptable to her."

Under the 12-month deferred sentencing arrangement, Breton will be able to withdraw his plea to domestic-violence terrorizing and be sentenced on the other terrorizing charge to 364 days in jail, with all but 90 suspended and credit for the time served, and be placed on administrative release for a year.

Maloney said if Breton is successful, he will have only one criminal terrorizing conviction.

"He doesn't have priors. He's 37, and the victim didn't want to testify," she said, "and as a condition of administrative release, he can have no contact with the victim."

Maloney noted that Breton's ex-wife has an active protection order against him.

The sentence means "there's somebody looking over his shoulder for two years, making sure he doesn't violate the protection order," Maloney said. "This adds an additional layer of oversight."

If he is unsuccessful, Breton could be ordered to serve the full 364-day term, Sullivan said.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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