PORTLAND — A former Fayette woman who was at the center of an 8½-hour police standoff in 2005 was sentenced Monday in federal court to time served – about four months – for telephone harassment of government officials, including judges involved in the dismissal of lawsuits over the incident.

Charlotte Bea Palm, 50, also was sentenced to one year of supervised release. The conditions of her release include a ban on firearms and other dangerous weapons, mental health treatment as recommended by her probation officer, and a requirement to take prescribed medications.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante noted that Palm has battled mental illness for much of her life and was under increased stress when she made the harassing phone calls to officials earlier this year. In sentencing Palm to time served, as recommended by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gunnison, Laplante said Palm did not appear to be a lifelong troublemaker.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the recommendation for Palm was four to 10 months of incarceration, with one year of supervised release, or one to five years of probation.

Laplante and Gunnison usually work in New Hampshire. The federal judges in Maine were recused from the case.

Palm, who now lives in Cape Coral, Fla., has been in custody since her arrest in July. She pleaded guilty last month to one count of telephone harassment.

Palm entered the courtroom with her ankles shackled and her hands cuffed behind her. She cried after her hands were uncuffed and she sat down next to her court-appointed lawyer.

“It’s been a very sobering experience for her. She’s extremely remorseful,” said David Beneman, the federal defender representing Palm.

On July 23, 2005, rescue workers went to Palm’s home in Fayette because of a reported medical situation with Palm’s mother. After their arrival, Palm’s husband, Jason, gave a handgun to the fire chief and said his wife was homicidal, suicidal and armed with a loaded handgun.

Officers from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police were called in, including members of the tactical and crisis negotiation teams. Palm surrendered after authorities used tear gas on the house.

She was taken to the emergency room of MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and later committed to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston for psychological evaluation. A search of the house turned up a .22-caliber rifle, a 9 mm pistol and three spent 9 mm cartridges, according to the plea agreement filed in federal court.

The Palms filed lawsuits in 2007 against law enforcement officers, prosecutors and a doctor at St. Mary’s. U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby dismissed the lawsuits, as recommended by U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk.

It’s not clear what prompted Palm in May to make a series of phone calls – sometimes laced with profanities and statements like “You are gonna find out the hard way who I am” – to officials in Maine. The calls were traced to a Florida phone number listed in Jason Palm’s name.

The first call described in the plea agreement was to Kravchuk’s home on the evening of May 23. Two days later, Palm made nine calls to Kravchuk and Hornby, and to officers who had been involved in the incident in 2005.

Palm was charged with criminal threatening in the 2005 standoff. Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle said Monday that the charge is being dismissed. He said the complaining witness – Jason Palm – is no longer cooperating and is no longer in Maine.

“We’ve made an assessment that after more than six years, this case is no longer prosecutable,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]