Nicholas R. Mitchell, 38, wanted in connection with a food tampering incident at Hannaford Supermarket in Saco a week ago, was taken into custody in Dover, New Hampshire Sunday evening. Courtesy Photo/Saco Police

SACO — The man police believe inserted razor blades into packets of fresh pizza dough at Saco Hannaford last week was taken into custody in New Hampshire on Sunday evening and appeared in a Granite State courtroom on Tuesday where he waived extradition to Maine.

Nicholas R. Mitchell, 38, whose address was not available, was taken into custody by Dover, New Hampshire, police about two hours after Saco police put out a description of him, said Saco Deputy Police Chief Corey Huntress. He said police in Dover had found Mitchell’s car, and took him into custody without incident after he got into it. Dover is about 40 miles from Saco.

Mitchell is held at the Strafford County, New Hampshire, House of Corrections as a fugitive from justice pending extradition back to Maine.

Now, Saco police say they are aware of similar incidents in two other Hannaford locations, in Sanford, and in Dover, New Hampshire. They are asking that anyone who has found razor blades or metal shards in Portland Pie pizza dough to call their detective division at 207-282-8216.

In Sanford, two customers on Aug. 14 returned bags of fresh dough that contained razor blades or razor blade fragments, Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly said Tuesday — according to the Portland Press Herald — but Hannaford did not disclose the earlier cases to police for nearly two months until Oct. 11, six days after customers returned two other bags of dough to the Hannaford store in Saco that contained razor blades.

Huntress on Monday morning said he could not say if Mitchell is a suspect in the Sanford and Dover incidents.

Huntress said once Mitchell arrives back in Maine, the specific charges against him will be released when he makes a first appearance in a York County courtroom.

Hannaford Supermarkets has issued a recall for all Portland Pie cheese and Portland Pie fresh dough sold in the deli department of all of its stores from Aug. 1 through Oct. 11, said Hannaford spokeswoman Ericka Dodge. She said customers are urged to also check storage areas including freezers for product that may have been purchased and frozen during the same time frame.

Mitchell is a former employee of It’ll be Pizza, a Scarborough-based company that manufactures products for Portland Pie Co.

It’ll Be Pizza published a statement on its website on Monday; Portland Pie Co. officials published a similar note on its website.

It’ll Be Pizza CEO Mike White wrote that Portland Pie Co. is one of several retail and wholesale brands of frozen pizza dough manufactured by his company.

“This incident has no direct connection to the Portland Pie Co. restaurants or to any of their menu items,” White wrote. “The suspect was an ex-employee of It’ll Be Pizza.”

White said It’ll Be Pizza has been working closely with law enforcement and the company’s retail supermarket partners. He noted Hannaford’s Aug. 1 to Oct. 11 recall of the products.

“We have reached out to our other retail distributors to do the same,” White wrote.

Hannaford officials on Sunday said no injuries or illnesses had been reported in connection with the recall.

The incident was reported to Saco police by Saco Hannaford personnel on Oct. 6 after a customer had purchased Portland Pie Co. pizza dough and found razor blades inside. The customer notified the supermarket, which issued a Saco store recall.

Huntress on Sunday said a review of the Saco store security surveillance footage showed a person tampering with the packaging of several Portland Pie Co. pizza doughs.

A Dover, New Hampshire, police lieutenant told the Portland Press Herald on Monday afternoon that Mitchell was not facing charges related to food tampering in that city. He told the PPH that police have heard rumors of tampering there, but that no incidents had been reported.

An attempt to reach Sanford Police Monday was unsuccessful.

State corrections records available online show Mitchell was sentenced to two years in prison, with all but seven days suspended, and two years probation on a conviction of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. He was to seek anger management counseling and evaluation and counseling for substance abuse, among other conditions of his probation. He had been scheduled to be released from probation in March 2021.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Mitchell also was charged with theft in 2018, but pleaded guilty to another, unspecified charge not included in his criminal history record and was ultimately fined $500. He has one pending case in York County from May, when he was charged with violating the conditions of his release.

Hannaford Supermarkets said they are issuing the full recall of all Portland Pie Co. products at their stores out of an abundance of caution.

“After what is believed to be further malicious tampering incidents involving metal objects inserted into Portland Pie products, Hannaford has removed all Portland Pie products from all store shelves and has paused replenishment of the products indefinitely,” said Dodge.

Hannaford, founded in 1883, operates more than 180 stores in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Shaw’s Supermarkets has also issued a recall, according to the Portland Press Herald. Shaw’s and Star Market issued a statement advising customers that the supermarket chain would be removing all Portland Pie pizza dough from the shelves of its supermarkets in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island.

 

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