Spate of ‘bath salts’ crimes spurs emergency legislation

Gov. Paul LePage will submit emergency legislation next month to address so-called bath salts following a spate of crimes stemming from the drugs.

Across Maine, police and hospitals are reporting a surge of people becoming delusional and violent after injecting, snorting or smoking bath salts, a synthetic drug marketed under names including Monkey Dust, K2 and Vanilla Sky.

LePage already signed a law banning the sale of bath salts and making possession a misdemeanor crime. But it was criticized by Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris, who felt lawmakers watered down the penalties.

State Rep. Doug Damon, who’s expected to be the sponsor, tells the Bangor Daily News that the governor’s bill will seek to make possession of bath salts a felony.


Arundel man faces charges after high-speed chase

Two police agencies teamed up to arrest an Arundel man who led state police on a high-speed chase along the Maine Turnpike.

Biddeford police arrested Jack Coffey, 51, of Arundel on Wednesday night on a charge of driving drunk. Biddeford police then contacted state police, who charged Coffey with drunken driving, eluding a police officer and two counts of speeding.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, said Trooper Bernard Campbell tried to stop Coffey early Wednesday morning on the Maine Turnpike in Saco. Coffey sped off, leading police on a chase that ended in Arundel.

Coffey abandoned his pickup truck behind a garage and fled into nearby woods. Later that day, Biddeford police stopped Coffey, who was driving a different vehicle.

Coffey is free on bail, and is scheduled to appear in York County Superior Court on Sept. 28.


Police charge target shooter with reckless conduct

The York County Sheriff’s Department has brought charges against a Shapleigh man who fired in the direction of a deputy and hit a house while target shooting.

Deputies responded Wednesday to reports of shots fired in Newfield. A deputy who was seeking to secure the wooded area reported that a half-dozen bullets hit trees above his head.

Deputies eventually determined that Sidney Sprague, 39, of Shapleigh had been firing in the direction of occupied houses, one of which was struck. Sprague was charged with reckless conduct, and his two .22-caliber weapons were seized.

Sprague couldn’t be reached for comment. There was no telephone listing for him in Shapleigh.


Police: Vacationers bought into summer rental scam

Police say they’re investigating reports of a summer rental scam that has targeted vacationers.

Police told WMTW-TV that at least six people were duped by scammers who used photos from legitimate rental websites to post fake rental offers for summer cottages on Craigslist.

The victims made down payments and showed up to find that the properties either didn’t exist or weren’t for rent.


City converting 18 buildings to be heated by natural gas

Maine’s largest city is spending $9.5 million to convert 10 schools and eight other buildings to natural gas. Once the conversion is completed, natural gas will represent 85 percent of the fuel used in city-owned buildings.

Ian Houseal, Portland’s sustainability coordinator, told WCSH-TV that the city will save about $900,000 a year if the price of heating oil remains at $3 a gallon.

The conversion of the schools will be finished in September, with other municipal buildings wrapping up in November. WCSH-TV said most of the buildings will be duel fuel, so they can switch back to oil if necessary.


Third person arrested in theft of ATVs from religious retreat

Police say they have arrested a third person in the theft of ATVs from a religious retreat in Stockholm.

Daniel Chabot, 21, of Presque Isle is charged with felony burglary, criminal mischief and unauthorized use of property. State police Sgt. Tom Pelletier said Chabot was arrested Monday.

Last week, police were called to Brigade, a Christian camp, after learning that an ATV may have been stolen.

The Bangor Daily News said Clayton Michaud, 19, of Crystal and Jay Whitmore, 19, were arrested on burglary charges after state police recovered a stolen ATV and a stolen utility vehicle.

— From staff and news services