Minor quake frightens birds but causes no real damage

A minor earthquake was reported Monday in the area of Boothbay and Edgecomb.

Robert Marvinney, director of the Maine Geological Survey, said the 2.5-magnitude quake at 1:19 p.m. was enough for nearby residents to feel a rumble or jolt, but not enough to cause any damage.

Matt Guggenheim, who lives on Barters Island in Boothbay, said he was working at home when he heard what felt like an explosion, or two explosions, in the distance. “I looked out the window and saw all these birds take off,” he said.

Maine typically has a handful of small earthquakes each year, Marvinney said.

In 2012, seven earthquakes were felt throughout parts of Maine, the largest a 4.5-magnitude temblor near Saco in October that was felt in much of southern Maine and as far south as Massachusetts.
Monday’s earthquake was Maine’s first of 2013.

Guggenheim said he was in Biddeford during October’s earthquake but Monday’s felt stronger. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the epicenter was underneath my house,” he said.


Temperature hits record 59 as January thaw continues

The January thaw continued in Maine on Monday with record-breaking warmth.

The National Weather Service says the temperature hit 59 on Monday in Portland, breaking the record of 53 degrees set in 1950 and tied in 2005.

Monday’s warm weather continued a thaw that began in earnest during the weekend. On Sunday, New Hampshire’s Mount Washington hit 48 degrees, an all-time high for the month of January.

Temperatures are expected to begin cooling to more seasonable temperatures over the course of the week, with the possibility of extreme cold Friday into Saturday.

Two Portland men charged in kidnapping and rape

Two Portland men who are accused of kidnapping a woman in July and raping her at gunpoint have been indicted, the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Mohamed Abdi, 22, of 97 Front St., and Francis Mezan, 22, of 83 Front St., were indicted on three Class A felony charges each – kidnapping and two counts of gross sexual assault – and two lesser charges – assault and terrorizing.

Police say Abdi and Mezan were in a group of six men who drove the woman to the Sagamore Village housing development on July 26 and walked her to the nearby Hall Elementary School.

One of the men had a handgun, loaded it in front of the victim and put it to her head, demanding that she perform a sex act on him, police say. As she did, another man raped her. The men then continued to sexually assault her, according to court records.

Abdi and Mezan face 30 years in prison on each of the Class A felony charges.

Appeal challenges sentence for role in double murder

Maine supreme court justices will hear arguments this week in the appeal of a man who claims his 45-year sentence for a double killing is unfair.

Eric Hamel, 22, is challenging the sentence he received after pleading guilty to two counts of murder in the 2009 shooting deaths of two men in Rumford.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Wednesday. Hamel argues that his sentence was longer than that of his two co-conspirators, creating an inequality in violation of state law.

Richard Moulton was sentenced to 40 years after pleading guilty to two counts of murder for his role in the killings. Moulton’s girlfriend was sentenced to 15 years for helping to plan the killings.

Bristol man gets 57 months for credit union robbery

A man from Lincoln County has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of helping two juveniles rob a credit union in Portland.

Federal prosecutors say Duane Toothaker, 42, of Bristol helped the pair rob a University Credit Union branch on Dec. 21, 2011, by advising them how to do it, driving the getaway car and writing the note that was presented to the teller.

Toothaker was sentenced on Monday to 57 months in prison.


Marine deserter discharged to resume life as woman

A man who deserted the Marines 31 years ago, returned to Maine and began a new life as a woman has been wondering about her fate.

The Marines now say she has been discharged.

Elizabeth Tremblay, who was Pvt. Donald Tremblay when she went AWOL, told the Sun Journal that her past caught up with her in September when she was arrested.

Capt. Greg Wolf, a Marine spokesman, said Monday that the case has been resolved and Tremblay has been discharged.

He said old cases aren’t uncommon. He said that the Marines have 540 desertion cases pending, and that half of those are 20 years or older.

Tremblay, 57, says she legally changed her name about 15 years ago and began a hormone regimen to prepare for sex-change surgery.


Defense in prostitution case seeking a delay to prepare

An attorney for a Thomaston man who is charged with 59 counts in connection with prostitution in Kennebunk has asked a judge to postpone the trial for at least a month.

Daniel Lilley, the attorney for Mark Strong, 57, filed a motion Monday in York County Superior Court to delay his client’s trial, which had been scheduled to begin next week.

Police have alleged that Strong, who owns an insurance agency in Thomaston, was a partner of Alexis Wright, 29, who is suspected of running a prostitution business out of her Zumba studio in Kennebunk dating back to 2010.

Strong also had a sexual relationship with Wright, according to court documents.

Lilley’s motion asks for a postponement until Feb. 19 to give him more time to prepare a defense.

Lilley has been outspoken in the past about the large amount of evidence that is expected to be presented in the case but was not available for comment on Monday.

The motion indicates that the prosecutor, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, opposes any delay.

Earlier this month, Lilley asked that the case against his client be dismissed, but Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills denied that request. A decision on the latest motion is expected later this week, according to a court clerk.

Wright also faces numerous charges but her case will be tried separately.

Additionally, more than 60 people have been charged with paying Wright for sex. None of their cases has gone to trial. Many have pleaded guilty and paid small fines.


Woman’s thumb reattached after accident at gas pump

Police say a 51-year-old Maine woman had emergency surgery after losing her thumb in a freak accident while pumping gas into her car.

Brewer Deputy Chief Jason Moffitt said the Bangor woman was filling up at a Brewer convenience store Monday morning and jumped into the driver’s side when the car began rolling forward.

Moffitt told WZON-AM that the driver’s side door then hit a bumper on the gas pump island, slamming the door on her thumb and cutting it off.

He said the woman and her thumb were rushed to the hospital, where she underwent surgery to re-attach it.

Officials said about 10 gallons of gas were spilled, but that Brewer fire crews quickly cleaned it up.
Police haven’t released the woman’s name.