May 3, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

SACO

Police arrest second suspect on Cascade Brook trails

Two days after the arrest of a man who allegedly was running naked through the Cascade Brook trail system, police arrested another man there on a charge of unlawful sexual contact.

An undercover officer who was walking on the trails Thursday, in response to complaints about "suspicious activity and illicit behavior" in the park, encountered Allen Hahn, 64, of Old Orchard Beach, just before 1:30 p.m.

After a brief conversation, Hahn stepped toward the officer, grabbed the officer's genitals through his clothing and said, "Are we doing this?" police said.

Hahn was charged with unlawful sexual contact and assault, police said. He was released on $500 bail and is scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on July 10.

On Tuesday, police charged a Yarmouth man with indecent conduct after he was seen walking naked on one of the trails by Chief Brad Paul. The man ran but was apprehended when he stopped to put on his pants, police said.

Deputy Chief Jeff Holland said the park has become popular with residents and visitors because of the recently improved trail system and scenic waterfalls, but police have received complaints that it has become a meeting place for men. 

Former fire station entered in Register of Historic Places

The former Saco Central Fire Station has been entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation indicates the property has been documented, evaluated and considered worth preservation and protection as part of the nation's cultural heritage, said Earle Shettleworth Jr., director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

The fire station was built with federal Public Works Administration funding in 1938. It was included on the national register because it represents efforts by the city government to provide modern and efficient fire protection services.

The fire department moved to a new station on North Street in 2011.

The city agreed last year to sell the old fire station for $100,000 to Cynthia Taylor of the nonprofit Housing Initiatives of New England. She plans to invest $1.2 million in the building to convert it to senior housing units and commercial space.

Before the City Council agreed to the sale, the building on Thornton Avenue was placed on Maine Preservation's annual list of most endangered historic resources because of its uncertain fate. Residents rallied against a plan to demolish the building to make way for a parking lot.

AUGUSTA

Hearings scheduled May 16 on 3 abortion-related bills

Legislative hearings are scheduled May 16 on three abortion-related bills, which are already drawing opposition in the State House.

A coalition of female legislators and abortion-rights activists held a news conference Thursday to condemn the bills as anti-choice.

The first bill bolsters Maine's law requiring informed consent about information, the second allows a wrongful death cause of action for the death of an unborn child, and the final proposal strengthens the consent laws for abortions performed on minors and incapacitated people. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled the hearing.

Committee Senate Chair Linda Valentino of Saco says she's confident the panel will reject the bills.

The Maine Right to Life Committee supports the bills and considers them women's issues. 

LePage signs transfer order for funds to pay lawyers

Gov. Paul LePage signed an order Thursday to transfer $462,000 to replenish an account to pay lawyers appointed by state courts to represent people who are too poor to hire attorneys.

The Commission on Indigent Legal Services, which runs the program, officially ran out of money Thursday after paying the latest bills submitted by attorneys for work they had already done, said lawyer Steven Carey, a commission member.

The $462,000 should be enough to keep paying the court-appointed attorneys for another two weeks or so, but it doesn't enable the commission to keep paying the bills until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, Carey said.

The commission had informed the Legislature that it was underfunded by about $1.8 million, but the Legislature's budget-writing committee rejected funding the shortfall in the supplemental budget. Instead, legislators voted to give the governor emergency powers to fill the gap when money becomes available any time this fiscal year.

VIENNA

Central Maine trout pond threatened by bass stocking

Wildlife officials say a prime central Maine brook trout pond is under threat because of illegal bass stocking.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says biologists have confirmed the presence of smallmouth bass in Kimball Pond in Vienna.

Fisheries Director Mike Brown says Kimball Pond has a first-class brook trout fishery that is now threatened by smallmouth bass, which will compete with trout for food and feed on small trout.

Officials say it may be impossible to eradicate bass from the pond, but that fishermen can do their part by removing any bass they catch.

PORTLAND

Ugandan men face jail time in marriage fraud conspiracy

Two Ugandan nationals face jail time and deportation for their roles in a marriage fraud conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty announced Thursday that Ronald Serunjogi, 35, of Saco was convicted of marriage fraud Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Evidence presented at the trial showed that Serunjogi helped Sampson Sengoonzi marry a Lewiston woman who is a U.S. citizen in October 2008. The men paid the woman, and the arrangement made it possible for Sengoonzi to stay in Maine.

Sengoonzi came to this country on a tourist visa but overstayed his visa, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Neumann.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Serunjogi also helped Sengoonzi prepare submissions to immigration authorities in support of his application for permanent residency. Authorities detected fraud and referred the matter for a criminal investigation.

Sengoonzi has already been convicted and ordered deported, but Neumann said Thursday that she is not sure whether Sengoonzi is still in the country.

Serunjogi faces as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Neumann said Sengoonzi's wife, whose name has not been released, is expected to plead guilty Friday to marriage fraud. She could face as much as five years in prison. 

Coast Guard investigating fake mayday calls in Maine

The Coast Guard is investigating fake mayday calls from Maine that it suspects were made by a man who has made more than a dozen hoax distress calls in recent years.

The Coast Guard said Thursday it's seeking the public's help to identify who made the calls over a marine radio on April 23 and 25.

Officials say the calls came from the Lincolnville area and are believed to be the same man who made at least 12 other hoax calls in the past three years, resulting in more than 50 hours of search time by Coast Guard and local responders.

The Coast Guard has posted a recording of the calls on its website -- http://bit.ly/13PBZw8.

BANGOR

Attorney general's ruling clears police in man's death

The Attorney General's Office has ruled that Bangor police were justified when they used a stun gun to subdue a man under the influence of drugs. The man died at a hospital five days later.

The attorney general says use of the Taser on Sept. 12 was within the limits of the law and its use did not result in the Sept. 17 death of Philip McCue, 28. The office says McCue died of poisoning after ingesting the synthetic drug bath salts.

The attorney general has thus decided not to launch a formal investigation.

Deaths in police custody are reviewed as a matter of law.

The review found that McCue "presented significant physical resistance to the attempts to take him into custody," which required use of the stun gun. 

Man, woman sent to prison for their roles in drug ring

An Augusta man and an Albion woman have been sent to federal prison for their roles in a drug ring that brought cocaine and oxycodone from New York to central Maine.

Saul Hernandez of Augusta was sentenced this week in federal court in Bangor to four years and four months behind bars followed by three years of probation. He pleaded guilty to September to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of cocaine and oxycodone.

His attorney said he expressed regret in court for his actions.

Cassandra Ware of Albion was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, followed by three years of probation. She pleaded guilty in November to similar charges. She too expressed remorse. 

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