CORINTH, Maine — A stolen pickup truck backed into and crashed open the front doors of the A.E. Robinson store early Friday, according to police. A surveillance video then shows two men with hooded sweatshirts and gloves running into the store and grabbing cigarettes and a lottery ticket dispenser.
The stolen lottery tickets led police investigators straight to the culprits, and four people were arrested for felony burglary and misdemeanor theft, Maine State Police Lt. Wesley Hussey said Monday. One of them also was charged with felony arson for later setting the stolen truck on fire.
“They were redeeming lottery tickets down in Auburn,” the lieutenant said.
Clifford J. Sprague, 34, and Rosemary L. Peterson, 26, both of Exeter, Michael Chapman, 37, of Levant, and Robert L. Mason, 28, of Corinna face up to five years in prison if convicted of the burglary charge.
The 2002 GMC Sierra pickup truck used in the burglary was reported stolen from Kaufman Motors in Corinna either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Shortly after the break-in, it was found ablaze at the intersection of the Black Road and West Corinth Road.
“The fire marshal’s office has determined the fire was intentionally set,” state police Sgt. Sean Hashey said in a press release. “The vehicle is a total loss.”
“Rosemary [Peterson] picked them up after the arson of the truck,” Hussey said, referring to the other suspects.
Within eight hours of the burglary, three of the suspects were located and arrested in Auburn by state police and officers from the Auburn Police Department. The fourth was arrested late Friday by state police and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department. Agents with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency also assisted, Hashey said.
“A large portion of the stolen property was recovered,” the sergeant said.
Police say Sprague was the one who stole the GMC truck and set it on fire.
He was charged with Class A arson, which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison, theft of a motor vehicle, as well as criminal mischief and violating his bail conditions.
Chapman, who was wanted on four outstanding warrants, was charged with criminal mischief and violating his bail conditions, and Mason also was charged with criminal mischief. All four were taken to Penobscot County Jail.
“The noted charges may be modified upon review of the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office and/or indictment,” Hashey said.
Sprague and Chapman made their first court appearances Monday by video conference from the Penobscot County Jail.
District Court Judge Greg Campbell set Sprague’s bail at the $50,000 cash requested by the Penobscot County district attorney’s office. Sprague’s bail conditions include no contact with co-defendants Chapman and Mason. The judge said Sprague could have contact with Peterson since they live together and have two children together.
Campbell set bail for Chapman at $5,000 cash. His bail conditions include no contact with any of his co-defendants.
The judge said he set a higher bail for Sprague than Chapman due to Sprague’s extensive criminal record and because he was charged with a Class A crime and Chapman was not.
Bail conditions would prevent both men from being at any A.E. Robinson store, prevent them from using alcohol or drugs, and require that they abide by a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
Sprague and Campbell both told the judge they could not afford such high bail.
Both are scheduled to appear before a judge again on Aug. 13.
Mason and Peterson were released on bail from Androscoggin County Jail, according to Alice Clifford, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County. Information about when they will make their first court appearances was not available late Monday afternoon.
Sprague was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury in January for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, eluding an officer, night hunting, failure to stop for an officer, and having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, according to court listings printed in the Bangor Daily News.
Sprague also has convictions for trafficking in prison contraband, receiving stolen property and several motor vehicle offenses, the BDN archives state.
In the last three years, Peterson has been convicted of cultivating marijuana, unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, trafficking in dangerous knives and displaying a fictitious vehicle certificate.
Chapman was convicted of three counts assault and criminal mischief in May 2004, and has another assault conviction from April 1999, according to the BDN listings.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.