ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Swan’s Island fisherman was sentenced Friday to serve six months in jail after pleading guilty to stealing more than $2,000 worth of lobster from a seafood dealer in 2008.
Shaun G. Lemoine, 30, told a judge earlier this month in Hancock County Superior Court that he was having financial problems because of the low price of lobster and because a previous incarceration had put him behind in paying his bills. On top of these things, his pregnant wife suddenly was hospitalized a few days before the Oct. 25, 2008, theft, he added.
Lemoine said he had been trying to get his life together and already had received a lot of help from his neighbors when, in the wake of his new problems, the temptation to steal six crates of lobster off the dealer’s float proved too great.
“I felt like I couldn’t ask them for any more, because they had given me so much,” Lemoine told Justice Kevin Cuddy. “I know [it] is not an excuse for what I did. A desperate man will do what he has to for his family.”
Lemoine has prior burglary and theft convictions, plus a conviction in federal court for trying to obtain a firearm while under indictment in 2007. As a result of the lobster theft, Lemoine could face between six and nine months of additional time behind bars for violating his federal probation.
Lemoine’s attorney, Chris Whalley, said Monday that his client has taken steps to change his behavior. He said he hopes federal prosecutors can be convinced that any additional time on the possible federal probation revocation will be unnecessary.
“I’m hoping a little sense of equity will come into play,” Whalley said.
Lemoine appeared before Cuddy on Feb. 5 to explain his actions. Cuddy listened to Lemoine and then continued the sentencing until last Friday. He told Lemoine that he wanted him to demonstrate that he can have a positive effect on his community during the two-week period.
On Friday, Whalley told Cuddy that his client had spent his time between court appearances wisely. Lemoine helped stack firewood for his neighbors and had given crabmeat to an older couple who were short on food, among other things.
“It’s been a rewarding two weeks for him,” Whalley said. “He’s made the best use of his time that he could on Swan’s Island.”
Cuddy considered sending Lemoine to jail for 18 months but instead ordered him to serve six months behind bars with no probation. He also ordered Lemoine to pay $2,014 in restitution to the dealer. Whalley said Monday that Lemoine and the victim have reconciled and that Lemoine recently finished paying back the money.
Cuddy stayed Lemoine’s sentence until 9 a.m. Feb. 26 to give him time to help his brother haul fishing gear.
“You’ve got a history you’ve got to get away from,” Cuddy told Lemoine. “What you do is going to define who you are.”
Whalley said Monday that, though his client wasn’t exactly happy with the six-month sentence, he respected the court’s decision.
“He felt like he got a good shake from the court,” Whalley said.