Bob Bittar, seen in 2018 in the Readfield barn he had hoped to turn into a pub and concert venue. Bittar recently died in a car crash. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

READFIELD — A Readfield man who had a longstanding dispute with the town was killed recently in a car crash.

Robert W. Bittar, 82, was driving westbound on Main Street, near its intersection with Butman Boulevard, on July 10 when he veered into the grass on the right side of the road, according to a crash report filed Sunday by Maine State Police Trooper Travis Luce.

Bittar overcorrected and lost control of the 2001 Subaru Forester, which then rolled over into a ditch on the side of Butman Boulevard against a utility pole, according to the report.

He died after being partially thrown from his car, according to the crash report. Bittar, who owned the Readfield Emporium restaurant and live music venue, was not wearing a seatbelt at the time. There were no passengers.

The single-car crash took place around 4:14 p.m. last Monday. Maine State police did not confirm Bittar’s death until Friday night, after multiple inquiries that week from a reporter. Details about the incident, including where it occurred and at what time, were not available until the crash report was filed this past weekend.

Bittar’s nearly decade-long dispute with the town of Readfield began when officials dashed his efforts to turn a barn into a pub and concert venue named after his late wife. He proceeded to host several free concerts there after he was unable to get a permit for public gatherings. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court got involved at one point and ruled in favor of the town.


He was arrested last year over allegations of violating a protection from harassment order Town Manager Eric Dyer had obtained after Bittar purchased a property next to the manager’s. Bittar allegedly threatened to cut down trees on the manager’s lot, made a gun gesture at him at a public meeting and boasted about plans to throw parties with loud music to annoy Dyer.

Dyer had become “the singular focus and obsession” of Bittar, Readfield Select Board members said after his arrest.

Months later, he unsuccessfully ran for the Select Board.

Bittar died three days after withdrawing his latest lawsuit against the town of Readfield, and just under two weeks after seeing three related charges against him resolved.

On June 28, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violating conditions of release, accepting the conviction but not admitting guilt. He received no jail time, fine or other punishment, and had two other charges against him dismissed.

State police spokesperson Shannon Moss said she did not receive a full account of what happened until nearly a week after the fatal crash because the investigating trooper and sergeant were “heading into their days off.”

Asked Monday if troopers are required to report fatal incidents within a certain time period, Moss said the agency is “not required or obligated to release information to the public on fatalities or crashes in general.” She said the agency alerts people to crashes when they affect traffic and “when circumstances dictate it, or media outlets inquire about them.”

The crash was not included in the daily police logs compiled by the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols Readfield. Officials from that agency declined to comment on the case last week, deferring to state police.

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