Fire in apartment building found to be case of arson

The state Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that the fire that burned a four-story apartment building was intentionally set.

The fire started Tuesday night on a first-floor porch on one side of the building, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. Investigators worked with state fire inspectors Wednesday to determine where and how the fire started at 22 Cutts St., a 10-unit apartment building where just four units were inhabited.

Anyone with information is asked to call Biddeford police or the fire marshal’s arson hotline,

McCausland said. Biddeford police can be reached at 282-5127. The state’s arson hotline is (888) 870-6162.


Elderly woman threatened during home invasion

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a home invasion that occurred Tuesday night at the home of an elderly woman.

Capt. Don Goulet would not release the woman’s name or address but said she was in bed when a woman entered her home armed with a stick or baseball bat.

The suspect confronted the victim while she was still in bed and threatened her when she tried to turn the light on. The suspect stole prescription medication.

No arrests had been made Wednesday. Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Steve Gorham at 774-1444, ext. 2110.


Westbrook man charged with hitting man with gun

A Westbrook man is charged with assaulting an acquaintance with a gun in Portland.

Westbrook police arrested Justin B. Digaetano, 20, at an apartment on Bridgton Road after Portland police issued a bulletin to be on the lookout for him, police said.

Portland police said a person who was scheduled to meet Digaetano on Tuesday night got into a car with him, then was attacked at Capisic and Frost streets. The victim said Digaetano hit him in the face with a pistol. The victim then wrested the gun from Digaetano and ran away, police said.

Digaetano was arrested an hour later, at 8:30 p.m., on a charge of aggravated assault, police said. Police are investigating the possibility there were other assaults in connection with Tuesday night’s attack.

Digaetano was held on $10,000  bail. 

Manslaughter conviction upheld in fatal crash case

Maine’s highest court has upheld the manslaughter conviction of a woman who was drunk at the time of a fatal crash.

Heather Ducasse, 32, of Belgrade is serving a six-year sentence for the two-vehicle accident in Belgrade that killed a 57-year-old Litchfield woman in July 2008.

In her appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Ducasse claimed her Sixth Amendment rights were violated when a Superior Court judge allowed a blood collection test kit into evidence during her trial. She claimed she should have been able to confront the chemists who created the kit or question a chemist about the effects of the chemicals in the kit.

She claimed the blood collection tube’s “certificate of compliance” amounted to testimony, but the justices disagreed.


Senate Democrats pick Hobbins, Alfond as leaders

Maine Senate Democrats, now the minority, have picked their floor leaders for the upcoming two-year session.

Meeting Tuesday night, Democrats chose Sen. Barry Hobbins of Saco as their floor leader and Sen. Justin Alfond of Portland as assistant leader.

It’s the first time since the mid-1990s that the Democrats have been the minority party in the Senate.

Senate Republicans have picked their leaders, including Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry, their nominee for president. House Republicans, who also ended up in control after last week’s elections, will choose their leaders Friday. 

Analysts predict shortfall in state’s highway fund

A $1 billion gap between revenue and projected spending in Maine’s general fund budget for the next two years tells only part of the financial story. State analysts say Maine’s highway fund faces a shortfall of $720 million in the next two-year budget cycle.

The $720 million represents capital improvements for highways and bridges for which no funding is now in sight. State officials say other maintenance and operations are still funded with money that’s anticipated. 

First case of flu reported in Sagadahoc County

Maine health officials are confirming the first flu case of the season.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention says an adult from Sagadahoc County has tested positive for influenza B.

Annual outbreaks of the seasonal flu usually occur from late fall through early spring.

Maine CDC Director Dora Anne Mills is recommending that everybody receive a flu shot.