January 7

Man sentenced to eight years for stalking estranged Maine wife

Benjamin Lee, 53, drove 1,500 miles with a Cadillac full of weapons, handcuffs and plastic sheeting after repeatedly threatening to kill her.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A Missouri man who drove from that state to Maine with a carload of guns and other weapons to track down his estranged wife was sentenced Monday in federal court in Portland to more than eight years in prison.

Benjamin Lee, 53, of Springfield, Mo., was convicted by a jury on two counts of interstate stalking after a five-day trial in U.S. District Court in Portland in September.

U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby, who presided over the trial, sentenced Lee on Monday to 100 months in prison.

Lee had repeatedly threatened to kill his wife, Tawny Lee, and her boyfriend, Timothy Mann, from the time she left him on April 12, 2012, until a month before he drove to her new home in Limerick in September 2012, according to numerous witnesses who testified during the trial.

Lee made many of those threats as he recovered from a car crash in March 2012 in which he broke his back and had to have several operations, witnesses said.

Tawny Lee and Mann testified that they had been warned by Lee’s sister, Stella Lee, that he had disappeared from Missouri on Sept. 5, 2012, and could be on his way to Maine in a borrowed car to harm them.

Mann said during the trial that he saw that car, a white Cadillac, pass back and forth in front of their Limerick home on the evening of Sept. 7, 2012, about a dozen times. He gathered his shotgun, adding to the 9mm pistol he was already carrying, and watched from the kitchen windows while yelling details upstairs to Tawny Lee, who relayed them to police in a 911 call.

“I was sweating, shaking. I mean, how many people have to stand in their kitchen with a shotgun to defend their family? And that’s what I thought it was going to come down to,” Mann said in his testimony, recalling the events of Sept. 7, 2012.

Police arrested Lee about five miles from the Limerick home. Inside the Cadillac were many weapons, including three loaded guns, two unloaded rifles, a machete, a bayonet and folding knife, as well as handcuffs, a roll of black plastic sheeting, latex gloves and camouflage face paint, FBI Agent Patrick Clancy testified at the trial.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

Twitter: @scottddolan

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