Men accused in vandalism spree go to court

Posted March 24, 2010, at 7:39 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:46 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Two Swan’s Island men made their initial court appearances last week on charges that they broke into more than a dozen seasonal homes in Mount Desert during a daylong vandalism spree in January.

Roman C. Cook and James E. Lemoine, both 18, each have been charged with burglary and aggravated criminal mischief. According to police, they caused a total of more than $50,000 in damage to 15 shorefront homes on Long Pond on Jan 18. One of the properties has a damage estimate of at least $30,000, according to an affidavit filed in Superior Court.

Lemoine and Cook did not enter any pleas when they appeared Friday in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth. Cook is expected to appear in court on April 15 and Lemoine on May 13. They have been released from Hancock County Jail on bail, the amounts of which could not be determined Wednesday evening.

Police accuse the two of vandalizing and breaking furniture, walls, windows and light fixtures in the house that had the most damage.

Some of the burglarized houses had relatively little damage, but the vandals are believed to have discharged fire extinguishers in most of them, according to police. Other damaged items include a toilet at one house and two refrigerators, one of which appeared to have been struck by an ax, police have said.

According to the affidavit, the two men became suspects the day after the vandalism when police tracked footprints in the snow at the burglarized homes to a nearby ice fishing tent on Long Pond. Police said that inside the tent they found dishes and other property that had been taken from one of the homes.

No one was in the tent at the time, but police found a receipt for a fishing license that had been purchased at the Wal-Mart in Ellsworth in some trash near the tent, the affidavit said. Police tracked the receipt to Cook, who they believe purchased the license on Jan. 15. Pictures and video taken that day at Wal-Mart show Cook and Lemoine at the store at the time the license was purchased, police said in the affidavit.

Police executed a search warrant Jan. 22 at Cook’s home on Swan’s Island, where they found a pair of boots with a tread pattern that matched a footprint found in one of the homes in powder that had been discharged from a fire extinguisher, the affidavit said. While executing the search warrant, police also talked to Lemoine, who at the time was wearing boots with a tread pattern that matched other footprints police found at the crime scene, according to the document.

Ronald McMullen, Lemoine’s attorney, declined to comment Wednesday about the charges against his client. He said he had not had time to review the allegations and evidence against Lemoine.

McMullen said he also had been appointed to represent Cook, but withdrew because he cannot simultaneously represent both defendants. It was not clear from court documents Wednesday whether Cook has a new attorney.

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