COURT NEWS

Swans Island man gets 2 years for vandalism spree

Posted March 20, 2011, at 6:04 p.m.
Last modified March 21, 2011, at 7:44 a.m.
Roman Cook
Roman Cook

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Swans Island man accused of causing more than $125,000 in damage to more than a dozen waterfront homes in Mount Desert has been sentenced to serve two years behind bars.

Roman C. Cook, 19, received the sentence after pleading guilty Thursday to more than 20 counts of criminal charges in Hancock County Superior Court. The charges were brought as a result of a Jan. 18, 2010, vandalism spree in which Cook, fellow Swans Island resident James Lemoine, 19, and a then-juvenile male broke into 13 houses on Long Pond, causing extensive damage to at least one and stealing some items.

Lemoine was sentenced in October to serve three years behind bars, while the juvenile was sentenced to serve time at a juvenile detention facility, according to officials. Cook has had a series of attorneys since first being charged in February 2010, court documents indicate.

On Thursday, Cook received an overall sentence totaling eight years in prison for burglary, aggravated criminal mischief and theft convictions stemming from the vandalism spree. All but two years of the sentence were suspended, according to court documents. Cook also was ordered to serve three years of probation upon his release, and to pay a $495 fine and $5,000 in restitution.

Attempts Friday to contact Cook’s defense attorney, Will Blaisdell of Ellsworth, and Hancock County District Attorney Carletta Bassano were unsuccessful.

According to police, Cook, Lemoine and the boy had been ice fishing on Long Pond on Jan. 18, 2010, when they allegedly broke into a nearby home on Northern Neck, a peninsula that juts into Long Pond. The trio then allegedly burglarized a dozen other nearby homes, often forcing their way in and causing damage inside, police have indicated.

Police said the trio caused $127,126 in damage to the vandalized houses, including nearly $40,000 damage to one house in which they discharged a fire extinguisher and smashed windows, furniture, walls, doors, door frames, wooden handrails, fixtures and dishes. Among the items stolen from the houses were jewelry, dishware, tools and a television, according to court documents.

Police were contacted after the break-ins when a caretaker discovered damage at two of the homes. Police tracked footsteps in the snow outside the homes to an ice-fishing tent on Long Pond, where they found a receipt for a fishing license that they say had been purchased by Cook at Walmart in Ellsworth.

The homeowners in the case have received a total of $84,000 in insurance payments since their properties were burglarized, according to court documents.

As part of Thursday’s plea agreement, Cook also pleaded guilty to unrelated charges arising from an incident last June in Nobleboro in Lincoln County. In that case, Cook was charged with theft, failure to give his correct name and criminal mischief after a sheriff’s deputy stopped a pickup truck in which Cook was a passenger on Route 1 in Newcastle.

The deputy stopped the vehicle at 2 a.m. June 20, 2010, when he saw several posts extending past the tailgate and an unidentified object dragging behind it in the road, according to court documents. In the vehicle, the deputy found several stop signs, street signs, a Mercury outboard motor and a mailbox, all of which had been stolen from various locations in Nobleboro, the documents indicated.

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