AUGUSTA — The man accused of tossing a cup of live bedbugs onto a counter at Augusta City Center told a judge Monday that he wanted the charges dismissed because of extensive publicity that he said portrayed him as “the reincarnation of Hitler” and city officials as “innocent angels.”

If the charges aren’t dismissed, Charles Manning, 74, formerly of Augusta, said he wanted a jury trial on the misdemeanor offenses of assault and obstructing government administration.

“I have a feeling that the people who live in Augusta are a lot more compassionate than the people that run it,” he told Justice Donald Marden, saying the city did a “re-enactment of the horrendous act I committed.”

Marden entered pleas of not guilty to each charge on Manning’s behalf.

After the brief hearing at the Capital Judicial Center, Manning filled out paperwork to apply for a court-appointed attorney in the case.

“I only make a minimal amount of Social Security,” he said afterward.

When Manning’s name was initially called Monday morning, he was absent from the courtroom. However, a reporter located him in a different courtroom and told him he was wanted in the other court.

Manning also indicated he had trouble hearing, and a court officer brought him headphones to use.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal last month, Manning said he was frustrated because he sought help from the city and was refused.

When Manning released the bugs into City Center, he was reportedly seeking General Assistance money and had just learned that he didn’t qualify for it, city officials said after the June 2 incident. Upon learning he wouldn’t be getting help, Manning pulled out the cup and slammed it onto a counter, releasing about 100 bugs into the office, they said. The incident closed Augusta City Center for the day.

“I pulled out the cup and said, ‘Here, help yourself,’” Manning said during a July interview at a local coffee shop. “I reached in my bag and pulled out the cup and I opened it up and put it on the counter, just to let (the code enforcement officer) know this is what I had to put up with for four, six months.”

Outside the courtroom Monday, he said he had called the city three times complaining of bedbugs in his apartment at 34 Court St., but did not receive a call back.

Manning said he is now living in the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville and came to Augusta by bus for his hearing. He said if there is a trial, he planned to ask to have it in Waterville to keep his expenses down.

He is free on bail with the condition that he have no contact with the city worker in the General Assistance Office who ended up with several bedbugs on her clothing after Manning threw them on the counter in what officials termed “an extraordinary bit of misdirected anger.”

On Monday, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said, “We’re not looking for jail time for Mr. Manning. We’re looking for something that will be rehabilitative and something that will allow him to go forward and not make him feel he has to carry out his anger this way.”

She also wanted to “reassure all municipal employees that it will be taken seriously if someone harms them.”


filed under: