Portland

Brunswick woman admits to embezzlement, tax fraud

A Brunswick woman has pleaded guilty to defrauding a federal program and cheating on her taxes after she embezzled more than $300,000 from the nonprofit where she worked.

Stacey A. Backman, 41, was a fund accountant at Coastal Enterprises Inc., a private nonprofit company in Wiscasset that helps fund community development projects, relying in part on federal grants.

Backman embezzled the money between 2010 and 2014 and failed to report the money on her federal income tax return, according to an announcement Monday by U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II.

Coastal Enterprises discovered the embezzlement in January and terminated Backman’s employment, the announcement said.

Backman, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for defrauding a federal program and three years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the tax fraud charge.

Man who ‘forfeited’ his right to lawyer appeals conviction

A Scarborough man sentenced to seven years in prison after a judge stripped him of his right to a court-appointed lawyer is appealing his conviction to the state’s highest court, authorities said.

A Maine Supreme Judicial Court official said Monday that it will be months before Joshua Nisbet’s appeal is heard.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren ruled in March that Nisbet “forfeited” his right to a lawyer after he went through five court-appointed attorneys – all of whom asked to be removed from the case – while awaiting trial. Warren sentenced Nisbet for robbery in May.

Grand jury indicts Bath man on kidnap and other charges

A Bath man who was arrested in April after a manhunt has been indicted on domestic violence and kidnapping charges.

The Cumberland County grand jury on Monday indicted Patrick Ridley, 28, on charges of kidnapping, domestic violence assault, criminal threatening, terrorizing, misuse of a public benefits card and possession of drugs.

Police confronted Ridley about the allegations on the night of April 11 and he ran, prompting a search of the Franklin Street area of Brunswick. A police dog was able to track him to a home’s backyard and he was taken into custody.

Police did not release details about the alleged crime at the time, saying it could jeopardize the case.

Health and human services chief ending years with city

Portland’s director of health and human services, Doug Gardner, is leaving after nine years on the job.

Gardner has accepted a position as vice president of operations at North Country Associates, a Lewiston-based company that operates nursing and assisted-living homes in Maine and Massachusetts.

Julie Sullivan, director of the public health division within Portland’s Health and Human Services Department, will fill Gardner’s position while the search for a new director is conducted, city officials announced in a news release.

“Doug’s passion and understanding of the issues surrounding health and human services in Maine has made him an excellent advocate for the residents of Portland,” City Manager Mark Rees said in a statement.

Gardner, who has worked for the city for 15 years, listed among his proudest accomplishments a program that aims to place homeless individuals and families in permanent housing, helping to reduce demand on the city’s homeless shelters.

New rock-climbing high for Portland: Evo Rock + Fitness

Portland may be best known as a destination for diners, cruise ships and arts enthusiasts, but a regional developer of rock-climbing facilities hopes to put the city on the map for another reason.

City officials announced Monday that Evo Rock + Fitness, which was founded in Concord, N.H., plans to build a new state-of-the-art rock-climbing facility at 65 Warren Ave. The climbing gym will feature more than 16,000 square feet of climbing space, 42-foot-high walls, and a large bouldering area.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the site, according to Jessica Grondin, the city’s spokeswoman.

Grondin said Evo Rock + Fitness will partner on the new facility with the smaller Maine Rock Gym, which will close once Evo Rock + Fitness is ready to open, Grondin said.

Hilary Harris, an experienced climber and architect, is the founder and general manager of Evo Rock + Fitness.

Presque Isle

Suspect nabbed after week on the run is arraigned

A St. Francis man who hid in the woods for a week after the fatal shooting of his girlfriend has made his first appearance in court.

Jesse Marquis, who is being held at Aroostook County Jail, was arraigned via video conference call at Presque Isle District Court on Monday.

The judge read the complaint and Marquis was assigned two attorneys, but he has not been indicted in the death of Amy Theriault, 31, WAGM-TV reported. A bail hearing was set for June 13 in Caribou.

Farmington

Incumbent pulls out of race to spend more time at home

A member of the Maine House of Representatives from Farmington has withdrawn his re-election bid to spend more time with his family.

Republican Rep. Lance Harvell, who would have faced Democratic challenger Edward David in November, made his announcement Monday, the Sun Journal reported.

Augusta

LePage campaign fined for contribution reporting failure

Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign is facing fines for failing to report some contributions on time.

The Maine ethics commission is seeking $210 from the Republican governor’s re-election team for missing reporting deadlines. The campaign failed to file two reports of contributions exceeding $1,000 within 24 hours, as required.

LePage’s chief political adviser, Brent Littlefield, said staff members who received the checks didn’t immediately give them to the campaign treasurer because they were unaware, since LePage doesn’t have a primary opponent, that 24-hour reports were due.

The commission said such fines for campaigns of this size are not unusual.

– From staff and news services