May 20, 2018
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Charges in theft from soldier

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The man police say manipulated three people into stealing the life savings of a soldier deployed to Iraq was indicted Thursday by the Piscataquis County grand jury.

Bernie-James V. D’Augostine, 21, of Sangerville, was indicted for aggravated forgery in connection with the forgery of $14,725 in checks stolen in 2008 from Shawn Burke.

Burke, 23, who had returned from a 15-month deployment, uncovered the theft when he wrote a check for online courses at Husson College and the check failed to clear in mid-April, according to Greenville police.

He later learned after contacting the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union that a box of his checks had been stolen and his account had been nearly drained.

Three people — Duane Hyde, 37, of Guilford, Robert Brammer, 39, of Dover-Foxcroft, and Ashley Gamblin, 20, of Cambridge, pleaded guilty last year to the forgery and were sentenced. The three are expected to testify in D’Augostine’s trial.

Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said in the courtroom during Gamblin’s sentencing last year that evidence in the case would show that D’Augostine used Gamblin, Hyde and Brammer to do his “dirty work.” All profited to some extent, Almy said, but D’Augostine manipulated them.

Gamblin was sentenced to two years in prison with all but 15 days suspended for her involvement in the case. She was placed on two years’ probation and was ordered to pay $2,950 in restitution, the amount of a check she cashed.

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 $3,995 in restitution 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 fines were on a joint and individual basis since the victim’s financial loss was caused by more than one person.

The Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps, which also has the matter under investigation, could bring federal charges against the four people, according to former Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster, who was the primary investigator in the state’s case.

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