Man wanted in N.C. killing is tracked here and arrested

A man wanted in the killing of a woman nearly nine years ago in Charlotte, N.C., has been arrested in Maine, the U.S. Marshal’s Service said Monday.

Law enforcement officials say investigators from North Carolina tracked down Robert Bell Jr., 38, in Portland after a DNA sample matched a sample from the crime scene. He was arrested Monday by the Maine Violent Offender Task Force.

Bell was wanted in the killing of Jamie Dunbar of Charlotte, N.C., on May 8, 2002.

Bell had been living in Portland for close to a year, said Supervisory Deputy Sean Willitts of the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Portland.

He is being held in the Cumberland County Jail pending extradition to North Carolina.


Father charged in crashes being held without bail

A Portland man who police say caused three car crashes as he fled police last week will be held without bail pending his trial.

Rahim Faleh, 49, made his initial appearance in Portland District Court on Monday, on charges of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, driving to endanger, criminal speeding, violating bail conditions and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

Faleh, who had been charged with threatening his children, was free on bail when he was seen Wednesday at Casco Bay High School, where two of his children have been enrolled.

Police tried to stop him on Allen Avenue but say he fled, crashing into three cars before his car was disabled and he was arrested.


Bus pass will allow travel around Portland area

Starting in May, Greater Portland Metro and the South Portland Bus Service will offer a regional monthly pass for both bus systems.

The new pass will cost $45 per month and allow unlimited travel throughout Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth. The Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System recommended creating a regional pass in 2007 as a way to increase public transit efficiency and move toward developing a single regional system.

The Metro Monthly Pass, which has sold for $40, will no longer be available. Both systems will continue to offer TenRide tickets and other fare options, including a Summer Youth Bus Pass. Free transfers also will be available between the two systems for passengers using other fare options.

Regional monthly passes and TenRide tickets will be sold at Portland, South Portland and Westbrook city halls, Metro Pulse on Elm Street in Portland, Metro headquarters at 114 Valley St., the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal and participating Shaw’s and Hannaford supermarkets along bus routes.

For more information, visit gpmetrobus.com or southportland.org, or call 774-0351 or 767-5556.


21 Reasons group helps parents stop teen drinking

The advocacy group 21 Reasons held a press conference Monday to announce a new website aimed at giving parents information to help keep teenagers from drinking.

Former Attorney General Steve Rowe was among the speakers at City Hall, at which some of the key steps for parents were discussed.

Rowe said drinking can have physiological impacts on the adolescent brain.

The group has launched PortlandPreventionTips.org, which includes suggestions for parents, including monitoring and securing alcohol at home, communicating with the parents of children’s friends, and setting and enforcing rules.


State police chief to retire after 27 years of service

The chief of the Maine State Police has announced his plans to retire.

Col. Patrick Fleming will retire on May 1, ending his 27-year career with the state police, spokesman Steve McCausland said Monday.

Fleming has been the state police chief for four years. He joined the force in 1984 and was promoted to detective and assigned to the Executive Protection Unit in 1993, protecting Gov. John McKernan.

Fleming remained in that role during the King and Baldacci administrations, being promoted to sergeant in 2000.

Fleming was later promoted to lieutenant in charge of the state police licensing division and was elevated to colonel in 2007.


Bills to decriminalize pot killed for this session

The Legislature won’t give further consideration to a pair of bills to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee’s unanimous vote against the bills killed them for this session.

One bill would have removed criminal penalties for possession of as much as 5 ounces of marijuana, and the other would have decriminalized possession of six or fewer marijuana plants.

During a hearing last month, supporters said the present law needs to be eased because it punishes people without any positive gain. But opponents defended Maine’s present law on marijuana possession, calling it one of the nation’s most progressive.


Panel approves Welch to return as PUC chair

The legislative committee that oversees energy and utility issues has voted 13-0 to approve Gov. Paul LePage’s nomination of Thomas Welch of Hancock to chair the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Welch was the commission’s chair from 1993 to 2005. He helped create incentive regulation for Maine’s telephone utilities and was an architect of restructuring the state’s electricity industry, often called deregulation.

He most recently has worked on energy issues for the Pierce Atwood law firm.

Welch was widely praised for his long and varied experience, his judicial temperament and his willingness to help educate lawmakers about complex utility issues.

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