ALFRED — A mistrial was declared in the case of the former Ogunquit town manager charged with stealing $400 in parking fees after the jury could not reach a verdict despite deliberating for several hours Wednesday.

The jury of nine men and three women began deliberating the charges against Thomas Fortier at midmorning Wednesday and returned to the courtroom at about 2:20 p.m. after informing Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz of the impasse.

Moskowitz urged them to continue trying to reach a unanimous decision, and said the time they already had spent deliberating was not unusual.

Moskowitz declared the mistrial around 4 p.m., after asking each juror whether he or she believed there was a chance more time or further instruction from the judge could lead to a verdict. Each juror responded no.

It will be up to the York County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to pursue a retrial. Assistant District Attorney Joshua Saucier, who prosecuted Fortier, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

Outside the courthouse, Fortier expressed how difficult the last 18 months have been for him and his family.

“I don’t feel like we won, I feel like we lost,” Fortier said. “In the last year and a half it’s been character assassination. More so is the fact that my kids and my wife and my mom and my dad had to listen to some of the things that were said. And that’s the really unfortunate part of this whole case.”

Fortier’s attorney, Bruce Merrill, said his client had been dogged by the media since he was summonsed in February.

“We’re hoping the prosecutor will realize that they don’t want to retry this case,” Merrill said.

Fortier was charged with misdemeanor theft, accused of improperly collecting parking fees from a town-owned lot on July 4, 2016.

In closing arguments, attorneys for the state and for Fortier gave differing versions of the case.

Merrill questioned the testimony of two teenagers who were employed by the town that July Fourth. They said they were directed by Fortier to charge for parking at a town-owned lot that was supposed to be free to the public.

Fortier’s alleged failure to turn the money over to the town also generated a charge of misdemeanor official oppression, when a public servant acts to intentionally benefit himself but purports that the conduct is part of his office, or fails to perform some official duty of his office.

According to the state, Fortier took responsibility for managing the lower-lot parking area near the beach in Ogunquit on July 4, 2016, for about one hour in the evening and directed the teenage employees, Cody Cousins, now 19, and his 17-year-old brother to accept payment for parking there.

Merrill also theorized that the investigation and prosecution of Fortier were politically motivated. Between when the alleged crime occurred and early August when Fortier was summonsed, Merrill said Fortier relayed a message to the Ogunquit police chief that the town’s Select Board wanted her to retire. The chief refused, and the investigation of Fortier began soon after, Merrill said.

But Saucier said the case hinged on whether the jury believed the brothers, who testified they were directed by Fortier to charge for parking for roughly an hour, and that they saw Fortier put the money in his pocket.

Saucier called Fortier’s testimony on the stand “evasive.” When asked if the teens were lying, Fortier dodged the question, saying it was not for him to decide.

“He didn’t answer the question,” Saucier said.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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