Houlton man arrested in theft from laundry machines

Posted Dec. 29, 2009, at 9:37 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

HOULTON — What at first looked like a mundane case of a suspect breaking into laundry machines intensified after Houlton police discovered that money was not all the alleged thief was carrying.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said earlier this week that a Houlton man was hit not only with burglary charges after the laundry machine incidents, but also with charges that included illegal possession of drugs and trafficking after a trip to the Aroostook County Jail.

Asselin said police were called to 82 Main St. just after 11 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, after an unidentified male was seen breaking into commercial laundry machines in the apartment building.

Both machines were heavily damaged, and an estimated $75 had been taken from one machine.

Officers Kris Calaman and Randall Wilson spoke to witnesses who said they startled the perpetrator during the burglary.

Acting on their description, police went to a nearby location and found James I. Keaton, 19, of Houlton. Asselin said Keaton’s physical appearance matched the description provided by the witnesses.

Keaton allegedly forced open and damaged the laundry machines using a metal bar, according to Asselin. Both machines were worth several thousand dollars.

Keaton was charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, two counts of aggravated criminal mischief and two counts of aggravated criminal trespass in connection with the incident at 82 Main St.

The chief said that while Keaton was in police custody, he admitted to committing a similar offense just three hours before at the Kendall Street apartments.

Allegedly using a chisel and screwdriver, Keaton reportedly tried to pry open a washing machine but subsequently gave up and then went to the Main Street building.

Asselin said that as police were taking Keaton to the Aroostook County Jail, he began complaining that something was poking him. Police searched Keaton and found a hypodermic needle in his pants pocket.

As they were leading Keaton into the jail, the officers noted that he was walking strangely. Suspicious, the officers requested a body cavity search.

Correctional officers allegedly located and removed half a tablet of Suboxone in Keaton’s anal cavity. The prescription narcotic medication was sealed in plastic wrap.

Additional charges against Keaton were filed, including violation condition of release, trafficking in hypodermic apparatus, two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs and trafficking in prison contraband.

Keaton remained in the Aroostook County Jail on Tuesday.

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