Federal judge finds inmate who requested public flogging competent for sentencing

Shawn Nobrega posted this photo on his MySpace page as an advertisement for his business, where he is listed as the owner/deejay.
MySpace photo
Shawn Nobrega posted this photo on his MySpace page as an advertisement for his business, where he is listed as the owner/deejay.
Posted April 12, 2012, at 3:37 p.m.
Last modified April 13, 2012, at 5:12 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor man who requested in January to be flogged in public instead of spending time behind bars was given a psychological evaluation, and a federal judge on Thursday deemed him competent enough to be sentenced.

In May 2011, a federal jury found Domingos Nobrega, 34, guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. A psychiatric evaluation was requested by his court-appointed attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, after Nobrega requested the flogging.

The report was completed in mid-March and U.S. District Judge John Woodcock used it, along with Nobrega’s actions since his arrest in October 2010, to determine that he “rationally understands” why he is in federal court and the consequences of breaking the law.

“Based on it and a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant, Domingos Nobrega, is currently competent to stand trial, the defendant is competent” also to be sentenced, Woodcock said.

Woodcock denied Nobrega’s flogging request in January, saying the law would not allow him to order the convicted felon to receive two lashes for each year of his sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James L. McCarthy did not call any witnesses Thursday, saying the report was his only evidence.

Silverstein said the defense didn’t have any witnesses, but Nobrega, who legally changed his name from Shawn Alan Nobrega to Domingos Nobrega, quickly stood and said he wanted to read what he called an “Affidavit of Silence.”

In Nobrega’s statement, he claimed he was not convicted of the felony gun charge because all the court paperwork lists “NOBREGA” — in all capital letters — which he contends means the listing is for a corporate entity.

“I am a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood sovereign man,” he said. “That entity and I are not the same.”

Police officers went to Nobrega’s residence at 751 Main St. Bangor on Oct. 23, 2010, to deal “with a despondent, suicidal male,” after Nobrega’s girlfriend went to the Bangor police station to report his unusual behavior and his access to weapons, court documents state.

During the six-hour standoff, police saw Nobrega, who has two prior felony convictions and was therefore prohibited from possessing firearms, holding a gun.

As a precaution, area residents and at least one nearby business were evacuated, and Main Street between Thatcher Street and Cold Brook Road in Hampden was blocked off to traffic. The incident ended when members of the Bangor Police Department’s Special Response Team shot tear gas into his home, forcing Nobrega to leave the residence and turn himself in.

He was taken to Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor and was arrested when released two days later. He has been in jail since.

Nobrega faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. His sentencing will be held in May, Woodcock ordered.

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