MACHIAS, Maine — A 19-year-old Beals Island man entered a guilty plea in Washington County Superior Court on Tuesday after he took a lobster boat on a joy ride last year damaging the vessel and four other boats moored in the harbor.
Kenneth R.H. Chandler was charged with four counts of aggravated criminal mischief and one count of criminal mischief. Chandler could face up to five years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
The court also is expected to order Chandler to pay $70,000 in restitution, not only for the damage done to the Lisa Marie, the boat he was on, but also the other boats.
Attorney Jeffrey Davidson of East Machias represented Chandler.
The 31-foot Lisa Marie belonging to Larry Crowley had the most damage, according to the District Attorney’s office. The other boats, according to the indictment, belonged to Tim Peabody, Peter L. Beal, Tommy Beal and O.W. Look and Son.
On May 19, 2008, a local lobsterman heard noises and saw the Lisa Marie heading up Moosabec Reach, between Jonesport and Beals without running lights, Deputy District Attorney Carletta Bassano said Tuesday. He saw one man inside.
Bassano said the man didn’t think anything of it until he heard another noise a little later and saw the Lisa Marie going in circles and ramming other boats. “There was no one on board,” Bassano said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Marine Patrol were notified, and when they went on board they found an all-terrain vehicle helmet and footprints.
They contacted Crowley who said he had not given anyone permission to be on his boat. Since no one was found on the boat, authorities initially feared its operator might have gone overboard.
Eventually the investigation led them to Chandler. He admitted the helmet was his but denied he had been on board the boat. He told officials he had been with his girlfriend.
When officials questioned the girlfriend she said the two were together, but later denied it.
“She felt bad about lying,” Bassano told Justice E. Allen Hunter. “She hadn’t spent any time with him that evening.”
Police talked to Chandler again. He admitted he was intoxicated and didn’t know what he was doing, Bassano said.
Chandler remained free on $1,000 cash bail Tuesday and is expected to be sentenced in June. His bail conditions include no contact with the victims, among others.