Woman gets 15 days for role in thefts

Posted Nov. 16, 2009, at 9:11 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:08 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — With the sentencing Monday of a third person involved in forging a soldier’s stolen checks totaling $14,725, police now are expected to focus on a fourth person who is considered the mastermind.

Shawn Burke, 24, of Texas, who is serving his second deployment in Iraq with the U.S. Army, lost his life savings last year when a box of checks was stolen and his account at the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union was emptied. Burke alerted Greenville police, who investigated and charged three individuals.

Ashley Gamblin, 20, of Cambridge, who had pleaded guilty to forgery, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison with all but 15 days suspended for her involvement in the case. She also was placed on two years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution of $2,950, the amount of a check she cashed.

Gamblin’s co-defendants, Duane Hyde, 38, of Guilford, and Robert Brammer, 30, of Dover-Foxcroft, were sentenced in March. A fourth person, Bernie J. D’Augostine, who police say manipulated the trio, has not yet been charged.

Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said in the courtroom Monday that he wanted to finish Gamblin’s sentencing first because all three are expected to testify in D’Augostine’s case.

Asked outside the courtroom whether charges now will be filed against D’Augostine, Almy would say only that his office has the case under investigation and that it may be a state or federal case.

The Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps also is investigating the matter, according to Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster, the investigator in the case.

Almy said evidence in the case would show that D’Augostine used Gamblin, Hyde and Brammer to do his “dirty work.” They all profited to some extent, Almy said in the courtroom, but D’Augostine “manipulated” them.

Burke had lived with D’Augostine for a period, Brammer’s attorney, Randy Day, of Garland, said earlier this year at Brammer’s sentencing. 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 them, according to Day. The checks allegedly were 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, where identification or licenses were provided by the individuals. The trio allegedly shared the proceeds with D’Augostine, according to police reports.

Because Burke failed to check his 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.

Gamblin’s attorney, Dale Thistle, of Newport, said Gamblin was “swept up” into the forgery because of D’Augostine. Thistle, who said his client had no prior record, recommended that all jail time be suspended.

Almy, however, felt Gamblin’s sentence should be in line with those of her co-defendants.

Hyde was sentenced in March 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 in March 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 fines were on a joint and individual basis since the victim’s financial loss was caused by more than one person.

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