AUGUSTA — The driver who led police on a high-speed chase through five central Maine communities before his vehicle caught fire in China pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of eluding an officer and driving to endanger, even as he’s set to be extradited to Pennsylvania to face fraud charges there.

Robert E. Rohwer, 33, of Peckville and Scott Township, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 100 days in jail and given credit for the time he has been held since his arrest on Dec. 21, 2017, almost immediately after the chase. He was also fined $575 and his driver’s license was suspended for 30 days.

Police using a tracking dog found him that day not far from the burned Ford Expedition he had been driving. Police seized $38,200 in cash from the purse of his wife, Jessica Rohwer, the day of the chase, and agreed to return it to her husband’s attorney as long as the fines and fees could be paid from it.

Jessica Rohwer later told police she and her husband fled from authorities because “people are after them.”

Robert Rohwer is scheduled to be in court next in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, where he is charged with defrauding two couples of nearly $500,000 through a home improvement business he ran there.

It’s not clear whether the allegations related to the home improvement fraud charges in Pennsylvania are connected in any way with what led the Rohwers to be in Maine and initiate the police chase.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said in an emailed statement Tuesday that the cash discovered by police following the chase “was not related to the criminal charges from my office.”

“I do not know why they were carrying it,” Maloney said. “I also do not know why they thought people were after them, but they did plead guilty and accept responsibility. Mr. Rohwer will now face his charges in Pennsylvania.”

The guilty pleas to the driving offenses took place during a brief hearing at the Capital Judicial Center, where Rohwer hung his head and looked at the ground as the judge asked him whether he understood the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty.

Rohwer stood next to his attorney, Thomas Nale. The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Tracy DeVoll, told the judge that sentence was intended to allow Pennsylvania authorities to come and retrieve Rohwer, whom she called “a fugitive from justice.”

At a hearing last week via video from the Kennebec County jail, Rohwer waived extradition and agreed to be returned there.

Previously, another assistant district attorney said there were non-extraditable warrants for Rohwer’s arrest from Washington state and Oregon.

Rohwer’s wife, Jessica Rose Rohwer, 38, who was a passenger during the car chase, pleaded guilty March 27 in the same courtroom to a burglary, assault, theft, criminal mischief and criminal trespass that occurred shortly after the crash. She was accused of entering a stranger’s home on Lakeview Drive in China and taking the keys to a vehicle. She got into a Jeep she found there and was pulled out by the homeowner. She was bleeding from a cut she suffered while trying to open a window.

The money was not addressed during Tuesday’s hearing and it was not clear why the couple had so much cash with them.

Jessica Rowher initially had told authorities that the couple believed someone was after them, which is why they did not stop the vehicle when an deputy turned on his cruiser’s blue lights and siren. She said people had been trying to run them off the road all day and that the couple had come to Maine to buy a lot off Tucker Ridge Road.

An affidavit by Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeffrey Boudreau says Jessica Rohwer told him both she and her husband had been methamphetamine addicts but had been clean for the past eight years.

“Due to the irrational explanation for the events from (Dec. 21, 2017), the actual events that occurred, and the extensive history of drug use, I believe both Jessica and Robert were under the influence of illicit drugs, possibly methamphetamine,” Boudreau wrote.

Police estimated that the vehicle was traveling more than 100 mph and repeatedly passed other vehicles where the road was marked with double yellow lines.

The vehicle chase started on U.S. Route 201 in Vassalboro and went through Winslow, Albion, and Benton before reaching China.

A criminal complaint filed against Rohwer in Pennsylvania alleges that he committed home improvement fraud, deceptive business practices/sale, and theft by deception/false impression.

It says that Rohwer and two couples entered into two written contracts for Rohwer’s firm, Three Nail Construction Co., to build a four-car garage and residence in Greenfield Township. The affidavit, by Detective Stephen P. Kelly, of the Lackawanna District Attorney’s Office, says the couple made eight payments each from May 5 to Dec. 1, 2017, for a total of $495,390.

The agreements said the garage was to be completed by Sept. 1, 2017, and the house by Sept. 1, 2018. The affidavit says the garage was not completed on time.

Along with $38,200 in cash located during Jessica Rohwer’s arrest in Maine, investigators also found that she was carrying checks, including one from one of the Pennsylvania people for $11,000.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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