ELLSWORTH, Maine — More than seven years after a local man was convicted for stealing more than $40,000 in checks and cash from a Southwest Harbor convenience store, he has landed back behind bars in connection with the crime.
Cory M. Sargent, 28, served three years in prison for making off with cash and checks from an open safe at Gott’s Store as it was closing on Aug. 23, 2003. After being tracked down a few days later by police and then pleading guilty to the theft, he and co-defendant Stephen D. Hanson, now 30 years old, were ordered to repay $34,000 to the business. The duo had thrown about $7,000 in checks into a bog on Mount Desert Island after the theft, but the checks later were recovered and salvaged by police.
Two years ago, Sargent found himself back in Hancock County Superior Court to explain why he had not been repaying the money. At the time, he paid $200 toward his debt but was admonished by Justice Kevin Cuddy to stick to his payment schedule if he wanted to stay out of jail.
On Feb. 18, the same problem landed him back behind bars. He was arrested on two counts of default on payment of fines and one count of failure to appear in court, according to jail records. He spent four days at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth before being bailed out Feb. 22 on $500 unsecured bail, according to court documents.
Sargent also is behind in paying an estimated $1,500 in total fines stemming from a 2007 conviction for possession of drugs and an earlier conviction for operating a motor vehicle after suspension, court documents indicate. Sargent does not now have a defense attorney, according to the documents.
Upon his release last week, Sargent came up with $500 to pay toward his court debts, but he and Hanson still owe approximately $27,000 in restitution for the 2003 theft, according to court documents.
Hanson’s defense attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth, said Tuesday that Hanson has been making his restitution payments. Hanson has been in and out of jail since serving four years behind bars for the theft, but lately he has been living and working in Bangor, Toothaker said.
“He’s been paying [restitution] and is doing well,” the defense attorney said.
In the days immediately after the 2003 theft, Sargent was arrested in a room at an Ellsworth motel, where police found drugs, $500 in cash and $2,000 in merchandise, police said at the time. Hanson, who police said bought an $8,000 motorcycle with cash soon after the theft, evaded capture for two weeks. But after a daylong chase on foot and by canoe, he was captured and arrested Sept. 9, 2003, in Bucksport.
Aside from the recovered checks and subsequent restitution payments, Gott’s has been able to recoup $10,000 through its insurance company and through the sale of Hanson’s motorcycle, which netted an additional $4,400, according to officials.