Sorrento woman gets two years for burning down mom’s seized house

Posted June 20, 2011, at 8:51 a.m.
Last modified June 20, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The angry, impetuous drug user who, as an act of revenge, set fire to the house she grew up in was not the 26-year-old woman Monday who stood before federal judge for sentencing, Cecelia Nicole Sanborn of Franklin said.

“I was an angry child five years ago,” she told U.S. District Judge John Woodcock through her sobs. “I’ve grown up and changed for the better. I’m not the same person I was five years ago. That person no longer exists.”

Woodcock sentenced Sanborn to two years in prison and ordered her to pay $139,700 in restitution, the value of the residence destroyed. In addition, the judge sentenced Sanborn to three years of probation after completing her prison term. During that time, she must attend the funeral of one firefighter.

The judge ordered her to report to prison on July 18.

Sanborn pleaded guilty in March 2010 to a charge of causing more than $1,000 in damage to federal property, but her sentencing was delayed until after her child was born three months ago. By pleading guilty, she admitted to using lighter fluid to set the fire that destroyed the house at 546 West Shore Road in Sorrento seized from her mother after a 2004 drug sting.

“You did more than smash up a house,” Woodcock said in imposing the sentence. “Arson is a far more serious crime because it placed the neighbors, the community and the firefighters who responded at risk.

“You weren’t crying after you burned the house down,” he continued. “You were gleeful. You were joyful. You lacked insight and remorse until today.

“Even today you offer no apology for the risk you placed the neighbors, the community or the firefighters in,” Woodcock concluded. “You portray yourself as the victim of your own crime. Well, you are not the victim of your own crime. You are the perpetrator of your own crime.”

Sanborn faced up to 10 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a restitution order. Under the prevailing federal sentence guidelines, her recommended sentence was two years to 2½ years in prison and a fine of between $5,000 and $50,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy recommended the sentence Woodcock imposed and asked that the defendant attend a firefighter’s funeral as a condition of her supervised release.

“This a revenge crime,” McCarthy told the judge. “The defendant said, ‘If my mother can’t have this house, nobody can.’”

Defense attorney Terence Harrigan of Bangor asked that a sentence of less than two years, including a term of home confinement, be handed down.

“She has turned the corner since her child was born in March,” he told Woodcock. “She has stopped using drugs and matured since entering her plea last year.”

Sanborn is scheduled to appear next month in Hancock County District Court on an unrelated theft charge, Harrigan said Monday.

The seized house was destroyed by fire on June 8, 2006, two days after her mother was found guilty in federal court of aggravated drug trafficking and several months after electricity to the house had been turned off.

Sanborn is the daughter of Roxana Sanborn, now 62, of Sullivan, also known as Roxana Carter, who was accused along with Craig Folsom, now 58, of Gouldsboro of cultivating 450 marijuana plants in the house, which was on West Shore Road in Sorrento near U.S. Route 1. The elder Sanborn and Folsom were living in the house at the time. During a March 10, 2004, search of the property, police also seized 10 pounds of processed marijuana, two rifles, $16,000 in cash and other drugs.

Folsom later was sentenced in federal court to serve two years and three months in prison on the drug trafficking charges. He was released in April 2010, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Inmate Locator. The elder Sanborn was sentenced in federal court to serve a year and four months behind bars and was released in July 2007. As part of the mother’s sentence, she agreed to forfeit ownership of the house to the federal government.

The seized property was sold at auction by the U.S. Marshals Service last year for about $130,000, according to court documents. Hancock County’s anti-drug law enforcement task force ended up getting $92,554, or nearly 75 percent, of the proceeds from the eventual sale of the property, according to a previously published report.

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