AUGUSTA — A half-dozen people were praised by a judge and others during sentencing hearings Monday for the Co-Occurring and Veterans court programs that operate out of Kennebec County Superior Court.

Each of the six received “the best case scenario” sentences for successful completion of the programs. The specialty court programs are overseen by Justice Nancy Mills.

The defendants will return with eight other individuals who also completed the programs recently for a graduation ceremony in the courtroom Jan 12.

Danielle Porter, 32, formerly of Augusta and now of Waterville, originally pleaded to aggravated unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, which occurred March 8, 2012, in Winslow. She was admitted to the Co-Occurring Disorders Court program May 10, 2013.

On Monday she withdrew the plea to the felony charge and then pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs.

She was sentenced to 180 days, all suspended, one year probation and fined $400.

She was congratulated by the judge and those who staff the programs for her work as an advocate with the Family Violence Project and for taking steps to improve her life.

“To say she’s had some challenges is an understatement,” Mills said.

Her attorney, David Geller, said, “I’ve known Danielle for years before this. She has always wanted to make her life better for her and her kids.”

RESTITUTION REQUIRED

Jennifer E. Higgins, 31, formerly of Brewer and now of Augusta, was admitted to the court program in July 2013. Mills told her Monday that she would be receiving a sentence of 306 days, all suspended, and one year probation, and would have to pay $13,553.89 restitution.

The sentence was for four counts each of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and criminal trespass and one count of criminal mischief, all of which occurred between Feb. 14 and May 1, 2012. Related felony burglary and theft charges were dismissed.

However, the sentencing hearing was continued to Jan. 5 to allow a victim to be present.

Mills told the dozen or so family members who accompanied Higgins that they should be proud of her accomplishment as well as her commitment to Alcoholics Anonymous.

“The drugs had just taken hold of her as they did with so many good people,” Mills said. Mills said Higgins is now married, has a job and is welcomed into her family’s home again, telling her directly, “People like you give me confidence that there is a reason to continue having this court.”

A defendant in another case, Dwayne Kuse, 44, of South China, also saw his hearing continued so a victim could be present. The judge indicated he would be sentenced for an assault that occurred Jan. 4, 2013, in China, and would receive 364 days in jail with all but 10 days suspended (served in the alternative sentencing program) and one year probation. He was admitted to the veterans court program on Oct. 18, 2013.

Archibald said Kuse helped other veterans in the program and wants to keep doing that.

Joseph B. Collins, 41, of Freedom and formerly of Dexter, was sentenced to five years in jail with all but 44 days suspended (credit for 44 days served), two years’ probation, $595.40 restitution and $735 in fines.

He had pleaded guilty to theft by unauthorized use of property that occurred Nov. 3, 2010, in Levant and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and driving to endanger Feb. 12, 2011, in Dexter. He was admitted to veterans court in November 2011.

“When you think of your circumstances before you came in here, this is really extraordinary,” Mills told him.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you helping me to begin,” Collins told Anne Archibald, the veterans justice outreach coordinator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at Togus.

VETERANS COURT PROGRAM

Jason Douglas Richardson, 37, formerly of Lisbon and now of Augusta, was sentenced to two years in jail, all suspended, and two years’ probation concurrent with sentences in Cumberland County cases. He was ordered to pay $3,550 restitution and fined $300. He entered the veterans court program Nov. 18, 2013.

He was convicted of theft by unauthorized taking and stealing drugs Nov. 15, 2012, in Lisbon, burglary of a motor vehicle, violation of condition of release and assault May 5, 2013, in Augusta.

Richardson told the judge he had paid the fines already and would be paying the restitution almost immediately now that he was sentenced.

Both Richardson and another veterans court participant, Joseph Harmon, 32, of Lewiston, were praised for their work on a gazebo-building project.

Harmon was sentenced to four years in jail, all suspended except 243 days already served, and two years probation. He was fined $800 and ordered to pay $255 restitution.

He was convicted of unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs May 18, 2012, in Lewiston and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs July 6, 2012, in Lewiston. He entered the veterans court program Sept. 9, 2013.

Harmon thanked the court and his family. His mother told the judge, “Thank you for giving me my son back.”