Ex-student pleads guilty to stealing from dormmates

Posted July 27, 2010, at 7:56 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:08 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A former student at College of the Atlantic has pleaded guilty to stealing from her dormmates and received a fully suspended sentence of nine months in jail.

In exchange for the suspended sentence, Olivia Pell, 21, of West Greenwich, R.I., is expected to perform 200 hours of community service for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to documents filed in Hancock County Superior Court.

Pell and her then-boyfriend, Bruce Gustafson, 30, of Caribou, were arrested in September 2007 after a COA student reported suspicious activity to Bar Harbor police. In one day, Pell and Gustafson had gone through residential rooms and offices at the school, taking cameras, digital music players, wallets and credit cards as they went, police said at the time.

Two credit cards were used, one to buy $180 worth of items at Wal-Mart in Ellsworth and the other to purchase a $400 air rifle at Jekyll & Hyde in Bar Harbor, according to law enforcement officials. All of the electronics, the items purchased with the stolen credit cards, and $220 in cash that was reported missing were recov-ered.

Pell and Gustafson were indicted the next month, each on more than a dozen criminal charges. Gustafson, who had a criminal history, later pleaded guilty to the charges and is serving his sentence at Maine State Prison in Warren.

Pell pleaded no contest to the charges in January 2009 but earlier this year withdrew her no contest plea. Last week, she pleaded guilty to a single Class D theft charge in Hancock County Superior Court while the rest of the charges were dismissed.

In addition to the 200 hours of community service, which she must complete by June 20, 2011, Pell must pay $140 in restitution.

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