Local woman hospitalized after car crashes into trees

A Sebago woman is in fair condition this afternoon after a crash sent her to the hospital by medical helicopter.

Gaye Brunell, 56, suffered several broken bones after she crashed her 2001 Mitsubishi Montero on Route 114 in Sebago at 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The car veered off the east side of the road, hit a stand of trees, and continued down an embankment and into another set of trees before coming to rest in a brook.

Brunell was ejected from the vehicle and pinned. She was taken to Central Maine Medical Center by LifeFlight helicopter, where she was listed in fair condition.

No witnesses have come forward. Investigators do not believe speed or alcohol contributed to the crash.


New Gloucester man gets 25 years in child-porn case

A New Gloucester man was sentenced to 25 years in prison following a guilty plea to producing and possessing child pornography, including images of him abusing a 4-year-old boy.

Christopher Veazie, 22, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Portland by Judge George Singal. After his release, Veazie will have 15 years of supervised release.

When arrested in 2011, Veazie had more than 2,000 pictures and 400 videos containing child pornography on his laptop computer. The images includes a 4-year-old boy who was known to Veazie and who Veazie had filmed while sexually abusing him, prosecutors said.

Veazie was arrested following an investigation by Lisbon police and the U.S. Secret Service.

Payne earns recognition for protecting Casco Bay

Joe Payne of Friends of Casco Bay was honored with the Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement at a ceremony in Boston on Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 1, which includes New England, presented the award to Payne, who has been baykeeper for 20 years. The award was announced by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

Payne has helped launch numerous efforts to protect the bay, including a water-quality monitoring program, a recovery after the Julie N oil spill, relocating 33,000 lobsters in the path of a harbor dredging project and making Casco Bay a no-discharge area, the announcement said.

Environmental Merit Awards recognize outstanding effort to preserve New England’s environment.

Grant enables four schools to offer special programs

A $2.2 million education grant will allow elementary school pupils in Portland and Biddeford access to after-school and summer programs to help improve academic success.

LearningWorks, a nonprofit organization that runs a number of programs for at-risk students, immigrants and low-income families, announced the five-year grant Wednesday. The grant will fund summer programs and after-school programs at two Biddeford elementary schools and two Portland elementary schools.

The grant money is supplied through the federal Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program and administered by the state Education Department.

The grants will extend the programming to 1,400 students.

The organization already operates after-school programs for East End and Reiche schools.

“Research is clear that extending the learning day is crucial for students who are falling behind.” said Ethan Strimling, LearningWorks’ chief executive officer, in a written release.

Biddeford Assistant Superintendent Jeff Porter said the city has experienced cuts in Title I funding and has had to eliminate after-school and summer programming. “This grant comes at just the right time,” he said.

The programs, which focus on science, technology, engineering and math, will launch with a four-week summer program in July and the after-school programs will begin in September.

Mitchell featured speaker at Champion for Kids dinner

One of Maine’s leading public servants has been invited to serve as the guest speaker at the Salvation Army’s Champions for Kids benefit dinner next month in Portland.

Former Maine Sen. George J. Mitchell will be the featured speaker at the May 3 event, which will be held at the Holiday Inn By The Bay on Spring Street.

The second annual Champions for Kids is being held to raise money to sustain programs that support needy children and their families in Greater Portland. This year’s goal is to raise $150,000.

Mitchell served as U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace from January 2009 to May 2011.

Prior to that, Mitchell served in the U.S. Senate for 15 years, leaving in 1995 as the Senate majority leader.

In 2008, Time magazine named Mitchell one of the 100 most influential people in the world.


Police say speed a factor in crash that killed S.P. man

Maine State Police say a South Portland man died in an early morning car crash Wednesday on Interstate 295 in Falmouth.

Police say an SUV driven by Christopher Black, 42, was headed north when his vehicle left the highway, rolled over and came to rest about 100 yards into the woods.

A passing motorist reported the accident at 2:30 a.m.

Police say Black’s SUV may have been in the woods for some time before it was spotted.

Black was the only person in the vehicle. He was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation is continuing, but police say speed was a factor.


Two arrested as police seize heroin, cocaine at motel

Police plan to charge a New York man, who tried to escape from police Wednesday by jumping out a second-story window, with drug trafficking after they seized thousands of dollars worth of cocaine and heroin.

South Portland police were called to the Days Inn on Maine Mall Road just after midnight for a report of the smell of marijuana coming from a room. When police identified themselves at the door, Anthony Calderon, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., jumped from the second-floor window and was apprehended in the parking lot.

He was taken to Maine Medical Center for injuries sustained in his escape attempt, police said.

Another man, Davidson Cordero, 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y. was found hiding in a nearby room that had been left open for house cleaning.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was called and agents searched the room. They say they found 200 bags of heroin, with a street value of $4,000; 50 grams of cocaine, worth about $5,000; $7,000 in cash, and a handgun with the serial number obliterated.

Calderon, who is recovering under guard at the hospital, has a history of drug convictions in New York, police said. Cordero was charged with criminal trespass and has been released on bail.


Inspection-sticker stop leads to pair of drug arrests

Police say a traffic stop for an apparently fake inspection sticker led to a pair of drug arrests Tuesday.

Officer Scott Corbett was patrolling the Thornton Heights area and pulled over a car with an apparently fake inspection sticker driven by Sheryl Wallace, 45, of Portland. During the stop, he saw the passenger, Dennis Splude, 55, of Portland, hiding something in his mouth.

Splude resisted a search and Wallace started to intervene but stopped when a citizen stopped to help, police said. Police found what they believe is crack cocaine in Splude’s mouth. He was taken to the hospital out of concern that he may have swallowed some of the drug. He was ultimately booked and taken to Cumberland County Jail, as was Wallace.

Splude, who has a previous federal conviction for drug trafficking, was charged with possession of crack cocaine, refusing to submit to arrest and falsifying physical evidence. Wallace is charged with displaying a fictitious inspection sticker, obstructing government administration, possession of prescription drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.


State seeks to ID body found in house destroyed by fire

The state Fire Marshal’s Office says a man died in a house fire in Boothbay.

Spokesman Steve McCausland said the fire was discovered about 4 a.m. Wednesday by a newspaper delivery person.

Most of the two-story house was destroyed. All that remained was a couple of walls.

The body was found in the first-floor living room. The man was believed to be the only occupant of the house.

McCausland said the body was burned beyond recognition and was being taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and identification.


Officials evaluating deaths of two babies at same address

Police say two infants’ deaths at the same address in Bangor in less than four months are under evaluation.

Sgt. Paul Edwards said Wednesday that an autopsy on an infant boy who was reported unresponsive at an Allen Street residence Tuesday was inconclusive, but that the death is not suspicious.

State Medical Examiner’s Office Administrator Mark Belserene said toxicology tests are pending, but it could be a couple of months before the results come in and a report is completed.

Edwards said this week’s death is not connected to the death of a 3-week-old boy at the same Allen Street address on Dec. 30, 2011.

Belserene told the Bangor Daily News the cause and manner of death in that case is also pending further study.

Inmate admits to threatening to kill President Obama

A Maine inmate has pleaded guilty to threatening to kill President Barack Obama.

Leroy Eugene Dunn of Hampden entered his plea Wednesday in federal court in Bangor. The Bangor Daily News says Dunn, 30, admitted writing a letter to the president that read, “You will die at my hands. I will kill you Barack Obama.”

At the time, Dunn was in a county jail on a drug trafficking charge, for which he is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

Dunn last fall pleaded guilty in state court to threatening Gov. Paul LePage.

Dunn’s mother has said that Dunn is mentally disabled and suffers from a disorder of the body’s connective tissues that can result in disproportionately long arms and legs. Dunn stands over 7 feet tall.

Two state universities welcoming new presidents

Two state universities in Maine are getting new presidents.

University of Maine System trustees on Tuesday approved the appointments of new presidents at the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

Kathryn Foster, who is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., will become president of the Farmington school. She is replacing Theodora Kalikow, who is retiring after 18 years on the job.

Linda Schott will take the top job in Presque Isle. She is currently a dean at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and is replacing Donald Zillman, who is returning to teaching at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.

Foster and Schott start July 1 and will receive annual salaries of $160,000 each.

Lawsuit alleges Job Corps student was wrongly ejected

A former student who was assaulted at the Job Corps center in Maine and his mother have sued the company that operates the school over the student’s dismissal last year.

Gregory Poindexter and Chevonne Handy of Stamford, Conn., allege Poindexter was assaulted by three other students when he was 17, then kicked out of school because of alleged gang activity.

The suit was filed earlier this month against Career Systems Development Corp. and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis in U.S. District Court in Bangor. The U.S. Department of Labor has oversight of the program in Limestone.

A Career Systems official told the Bangor Daily News he had not seen the suit and could not comment.

Poindexter and his mother are seeking his reinstatement into the program along with unspecified damages.


Maine’s air quality improved, Lung Association declares

A report released Wednesday says Maine’s air quality is better than it was a year ago, but it also finds room for improvement.

The American Lung Association’s report says ozone levels improved by one or two grades in all counties, and unlike last year, no Maine county got a failing grade.

Aroostook County went from C to A in ozone pollution and ends up as one of the cleanest counties in the country in that category. At the other end of Maine, York County nudged up to D from F.

Because of its location as a receiver of pollutants from other states, Maine is sometimes called the nation’s “tailpipe.”

The Lung Association’s Ed Miller says Maine’s senators are key to preventing a weakening of the federal Clean Air Act.

LePage vetoes bill to raise fees at county deeds offices

Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed a bill that seeks to increase filing fees at county registrar of deeds offices.

In his veto message Tuesday, the governor called the bill a tax increase that he cannot support. He said if counties want tax increases, they should justify them on their merits.

The bill he rejected seeks to increase the current $13 fees by $6.

The bill will be returned to the Legislature when legislators return on May 15 to see if there are sufficient votes to override it. The Legislature in early April overrode LePage’s veto of a Medicaid-related bill, but sustained his veto of a bill addressing mortgage foreclosures.

ATV theft, disposal sends Mount Vernon man to jail

A Mount Vernon man who stole a neighbor’s all-terrain vehicle and used it to haul scrap before stripping it for scrap has been sentenced to 2½ years in jail.

Ernest Gagnon Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, and one count each of theft by unauthorized use of property, theft of services and criminal mischief, all occurring between Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 in Mount Vernon, Waterville and Oakland.

The Kennebec Journal reports he also pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, which involved the Feb. 10, 2010, theft of two ATVs in Mount Vernon.

He was also ordered to pay nearly $1,700 in restitution.


Teen gets 3 years in jail for near-fatal beating

A teenager who severely beat and nearly killed another youth in the parking lot of the Lewiston Mall last year has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Nineteen-year-old Jacob Estes of Auburn received an eight-year sentence with three to serve and five suspended and three years of probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to aggravated assault. He was also ordered to pay more than $3,500 in medical expenses that weren’t covered by his victim’s health insurance.

Prosecutors say Estes beat then-16-year-old Dax Catalano in March 2011 in a fight that started as an argument over Catalano’s girlfriend, who once dated one of Estes’ friends.

Catalano nearly died in the hospital, where blood was drawn from his fractured skull.

The Sun Journal reports that Estes apologized to Catalano in court.


Church sues city, alleges too few tax exemptions

A church is suing the city of Rockland, claiming it isn’t getting all the tax exemptions it’s entitled to for its church property.

Lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund say they filed a complaint in Knox County Superior Court this week on behalf of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

The church was granted a tax exemption for its church building, but the suit claims the church’s parking lot and parsonage should also be exempt from property taxes under Maine law covering churches and charitable organizations.

City Attorney Kevin Beal says the church has been granted all the tax exemptions it’s entitled to and can’t claim exemptions as both a church and a charitable organization.

He says the church is seeking preferential treatment that other churches don’t receive.


UNE expands opportunities for overseas studies

The University of New England says it’s signed agreements with two Spanish universities which will promote overseas studies opportunities at one school and open the door to future agreements with the second.

UNE, which has campuses in Biddeford and Portland, signed an agreement with the University Pablo de Olavide in Seville. It will allow UNE students to complete a semester in Spain. The Maine university says it may be the first U.S. semester abroad program to establish lab-based science courses in English in a non-English speaking country.

UNE’s second agreement, with the University of Granada, opens future cooperative opportunities in graduate health sciences education.

UNE expects to open a campus in Tangier, Morocco, next fall or spring.