DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A former Milo police chief pleaded no contest Monday in Piscataquis County Superior Court to stalking and to improper influence in connection with a situation involving his wife.
Michael H. Poulin, 54, of Windsor was sentenced by presiding Justice William R. Anderson to 10 days in jail on each count to be served concurrently. He also was fined $500 on each count. He is scheduled to report to jail today.
Poulin had been indicted earlier this year for domestic violence assault but that charge was dismissed Monday as part of a plea bargain, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.
The reason Almy changed the charges, he said, was that the nature of the crime was such that he could incorporate it into a conduct of stalking, which started after the couple had separated at the end of October and continued through March. Poulin either personally checked on his wife’s whereabouts in an “alarming manner” or had one of his officers do so, Almy said.
Poulin was arrested March 20 after an alleged assault occurred shortly after 7 p.m. when he, along with the couple’s son, Chris Poulin, 25, came into Elaine Poulin’s cafe in Milo. An argument erupted over the couple’s marital problems, Lt. Robert Young of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department said after the March arrest. Poulin allegedly grabbed his wife by the arms and pinned her against a wall, Young had reported earlier.
The cafe was closed for the day when the incident occurred, but two Milo police officers and a friend of Elaine Poulin’s were inside the cafe when Poulin and his son arrived.
Almy said Monday that Poulin had told the police officers who were inside the cafe to keep the incident to themselves but they called the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department. Poulin’s ordering an officer to watch his wife and telling officers to keep quiet about the incident led to the improper influence charge.
After Poulin’s arrest, town officials suspended Poulin with pay pending the outcome of the continuing investigation. Poulin, who was hired as Milo police chief in June 2006 and had been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, later resigned.
Elaine Poulin, who did not attend the sentencing, believes the state has overblown the situation, Almy said in the courtroom.
A statement reiterated by her husband’s attorney, Pamela J. Ames of Waterville, said Elaine Poulin has said she was never assaulted. Ames said her client also had steadfastly maintained there never was an assault. He took a pad of sticky notes from his wife in the March incident, she said. Ames said Poulin did admit to having one of his officers check on his wife’s welfare and he had been departmentally disciplined for that. She said he did not tell anyone to withhold evidence.
Outside the courtroom, Ames accused the police of being overzealous because they did not have verbal or written statements from the victim and witnesses when Poulin was arrested. “They jumped very quickly to the arrest,” she said. Ames said that once the case started to “unravel,” the officers and Almy shifted gears and started to investigate other actions.
“Usually, the state will demand a statement from witnesses and victims before an arrest has been made,” Poulin said outside the courtroom. In this case, “they just went on the officers’ statements.”
Almy defended the officers’ actions. “The reason he was arrested is the officers saw with their own eyes what they believed to be an assault and based upon those observations they reported it to the Sheriff’s Department, and the Sheriff’s Department quite properly arrested Mr. Poulin,” he said. “To me, what those Milo officers did and what the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department did was entirely proper.
“You’ve got to bear in mind that there are lots of times that victims will not say to the police then or later what happened because they have many reasons for not doing so, sometimes that’s fear, sometimes it’s embarrassment,” Almy said.