AUGUSTA — Investigators put a body wire on an informant in a failed attempt to get Raymond Bellavance Jr. to incriminate himself in the fire that destroyed the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop on June 3, 2009.

Investigators also had unrecorded conversations with individuals about the case, and a fire marshal used crude language to describe a waitress who was a sometime-girlfriend of Bellavance and coffee shop owner Donald Crabtree, according to testimony Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court.

The hearing came after Bellavance’s attorney, Robert Ruffner, sought a dismissal of the two arson charges against his client.

Bellavance has pleaded not guilty to the arson charges.

Ruffner said much of the material provided to him from witness interviews came eight to 13 months after the interviews took place, and failed to include information about any favorable treatment interviewees received in exchange for information.

“Many of the interviews of ‘witnesses’ were conducted while they were in custody, many with pending charges or probation revocations,” Ruffner told the court in his filing. “To date, we have not been provided with any evidence of any deals or inducements provided to these ‘witnesses.'”

Deputy District Attorney Alan Kelley maintains the investigation was done properly. He told the court all relevant material — including any exculpatory evidence — was provided to the defense as required by the rules of evidence.

Bellavance, 50, of Winthrop, has been in jail for 11 months on the arson charges. One charge says he deliberately set the fire to cause damage; the other says he recklessly endangered a person or property.

Crabtree, his two daughters, their boyfriends and the daughters’ two 4-month-old babies were in the building — an old motel — when the fire started. Everyone escaped unharmed.

The business had been the source of controversy in Vassalboro for some time.

Just hours before the blaze, Crabtree was before the Vassalboro Planning Board seeking a permit to expand the hours and the employee parking area. He also planned to have the waitresses dance to music at the Route 3 establishment.

After the fire, Crabtree vowed to rebuild. The business reopened in a commercial trailer on the same site in November 2009.

The confidential informant was called to testify just after noon Thursday. Before her arrival, the courtroom was cleared of three spectators, including a reporter.

The informant was referred to in open court as “09-49” — a number indicating the informant is the 49th to work with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in 2009, one officer said.

Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office Detective John Bourque and the woman’s probation officer, Donald White, indicated the woman normally was involved in aiding in drug investigations.

They said she offered information connecting Bellavance to the blaze and agreed to arrange a meeting with Bellavance, at which she would be wearing a wire.

After her probation officer spotted her allegedly driving without a license, she came to authorities and offered to get evidence implicating Bellavance.

“It was made clear to her that getting (Ray) Bellavance to talk would be helpful to her in the trouble she was having?” Ruffner asked.

“Yes,” White answered.

Bellavance never showed up for the meeting.

Kenneth MacMaster, an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said he had been trying to convince Crabtree that Krista MacIntyre “was the lightning rod” for the blaze.

MacMaster said MacIntyre proved uncooperative with investigators. “I found her answers to be untruthful,” he said.

In court documents, MacMaster says investigators determined Bellavance used gasoline to torch the building because he was upset that MacIntyre had a sexual relationship with Crabtree.

On the witness stand Thursday, MacIntyre said she and Bellavance had an open relationship.

She testified Bellavance never told her he set the fire, and that she believed he did not start it.

The prosecutor indicated MacIntyre visits Bellavance in jail.

Justice Michaela Murphy told attorneys to file motion-to-dismiss arguments in writing, giving Ruffner until May 23 and Kelley until June 15 to respond.

“Assume I know nothing about this case and timeline — oversupply,” she said.

Murphy also asked for dates when items came to the prosecutor’s office and when they were received by the defense.

She also said anyone who discussed the testimony provided by the confidential witness would be violating a court order and held in contempt.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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