2 sentenced in forgery of checks belonging to soldier on Iraq tour

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff
Posted March 25, 2009, at 10:44 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Two of four people who forged stolen checks totaling $14,725 owned by a solider now serving his second tour of duty in Iraq were sentenced Wednesday in Piscataquis County Superior Court.

Duane Hyde, 37, of Guilford and Robert Brammer, 29, of Dover-Foxcroft, who had pleaded guilty last year to forgery in connection with the case, were given prison terms by Justice William Anderson.

Hyde was sentenced to two years in prison with all but 60 days suspended and was placed on probation for two years. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $3,995 plus court costs.

Brammer was sentenced to two years in prison with all but 90 days suspended. He was placed on probation for two years and was ordered to pay restitution of $7,780 plus court costs.

The men, both of whom are considered disabled, are accused of forging checks owned by Shawn Burke, 23, of Texas, who is serving in the Army. Burke lost his life savings last year when a box of checks was stolen and his account at the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union emptied.

Burke alerted Greenville police, who investigated.

Because Burke failed to check a quarterly statement last year and did not notify the credit union within 20 days of its receipt to report the missing funds, the credit union would refund only $3,995 to him.

Burke reportedly told officials recently that the Judge Advocate General’s Corps may file suit against the credit union on his behalf to recover the funds.

“This is a very frustrating situation for the victim,” District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Wednesday in the courtroom.

In imposing the sentences, Anderson told Brammer and Hyde that they need to generate some income to repay the victim. He said both men had done work in the past and could continue to generate some income. He said if he didn’t think the two would pay the restitution, he would have given them the full two-year sentences.

Brammer said in the courtroom that he was willing to “work under the table” — in essence to make some income above his government benefits — and he said he could probably find “work under the table” for Hyde.

Anderson, who did not respond to Brammer’s comment, ordered the restitution on a joint and individual basis since the victim’s financial loss was caused by more than one person.

A third person, Ashley Gamblin, 19, of Cambridge, has been charged with forgery in the case but has not yet entered a plea.

A fourth person allegedly involved in the case and identified by Almy in the courtroom on Wednesday was Bernie J. D’Augostine, 21. He has not been charged nor are his whereabouts known.

“We are definitely going after D’Augostine,” Almy said in a telephone interview Wednesday evening.

Almy did not explain why D’Augostine has not been charged in the case, but did say that he would seek a warrant for his arrest after Gamblin appears in court.

Burke had lived with D’Augostine for a period, Brammer’s attorney, Randy Day of Garland, said Wednesday in the courtroom. When Burke left the state, his mail continued to be delivered to the house he shared with D’Augostine. Burke’s brother, Jack Little, would pick up the mail and take it to Boston for delivery to his brother, Day said. One box of checks that apparently got left behind was discovered by D’Augostine, who used Hyde, Brammer and Gamblin to cash the checks, according to Day.The checks were allegedly made out by D’Augostine in the name of Brammer, Hyde or Gamblin, who each cashed the checks at credit union branches in Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, Dexter and Greenville. They shared some of the proceeds with D’Augostine, according to police reports. Identification or licenses were provided by the individuals where the checks were cashed, according to police.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2009/03/25/news/2-sentenced-in-forgery-of-checks-belonging-to-soldier-on-iraq-tour/ printed on October 1, 2014