Bangor man gets prison time in theft-by-shopping-list case

Posted Dec. 15, 2008, at 11:05 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The man who told authorities he stole large and small appliances for two Hampden women who he said gave him a shopping list of items they wanted was sentenced Monday in Penobscot County Superior Court to 18 months in prison.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Michael T. Hughes, 38, of Bangor pleaded guilty to one felony theft charge. Last week he testified against Evelyn Dempsey, 60, and Judy Gariepy, 61, who now lives in Arizona. A jury Thursday found them not guilty of receiving stolen property.

The women did not attend the sentencing.

Greg Campbell, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, recommended that Superior Court Justice John Nivison sentence Hughes to 2½ years in prison. Defense attorney Terence Harrigan of Bangor asked that the judge sentence Hughes to six months in Penobscot County Jail because of the way he has turned his life around since being arrested in October 2006 while shoplifting from Kohl’s.

Hughes’ agreement with prosecutors allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial if he was sentenced to more than 2½ years in prison. He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the Class C theft charge.

“I thought it was a fair sentence,” Campbell said late Monday afternoon.

The theft was raised from a misdemeanor to a felony because of Hughes’ extensive criminal history, the prosecutor said.

Hughes urged the judge to be lenient.

“This happened 2½ years ago,” Hughes, who had been out on bail for two years and completed treatment for opiate addiction, told Nivison. “Since then, I’ve seen my picture on TV and I don’t recognize that person.

“I’m getting off methadone, I’ve gotten my license back, I’ve paid my child support, I have a full-time job,” he said. “I’m begging for mercy.”

In handing down Hughes’ sentence, Nivison did not suspend any of it, as the defense attorney had recommended. The judge said his job was to fashion a sentence that would take into account mitigating and aggravating factors in Hughes’ case, to deter his potential illegal conduct in the future and to send a message to the community about how similar defendants would be sentenced.

Nivison also issued a warning to Hughes.

“I hope that you are truly repentant and that you make progress toward recovery while in prison,” he said. “If this is not a true conversion, we will know that because given your history, you will be back here.”

The judge also refused to stay the implementation of the sentence until after the holidays.

Hughes was taken from the courtroom to Penobscot County Jail for processing. He is expected to be moved to a state facility later this week.

jharrison@bangordailynews.net

990-8207

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