DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The chief pilot with the Maine Warden Service entered a not guilty plea to domestic violence assault and other charges during an appearance Monday in Piscataquis County Superior Court.
Charles Later, 54, of Shirley did not appear in court in person, but rather entered his pleas through his Bangor attorney, David Szewczyk, Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Monday afternoon.
In addition to domestic violence assault, Later has been charged with obstructing the report of a crime and criminal mischief, Almy said earlier this month.
Almy said that Later has requested a jury trial, which likely won’t take place until around November, based on the current court schedule.
What that means for Later’s work status was not immediately clear.
Szewczyk did not return a telephone call seeking comment Monday afternoon.
Later was charged on June 3, according to the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department.
Almy said earlier this month that the charges stem from an investigation into an alleged assault on a woman at Later’s residence in Shirley.
He said that Later, who had been drinking, got into an altercation with the victim and while she was trying to call 911 for help, damaged the telephone and shoved her.
After his arrest, Later was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the sheriff’s investigation and a review by the Piscataquis County district attorney’s office, according to Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service, which is conducting its own independent investigation of the incident.
On Monday, MacDonald said he had no information about how Later’s plea would affect the status of his administrative leave with the warden service.
Later was hired as the warden service’s chief pilot in April 1999, according to a news story from the Bangor Daily News archives.
He first learned to fly with his father, who also was a Maine Warden Service pilot, and earned his pilot’s license at age 17.
Before he was hired by the warden service, Later was a pilot and director of maintenance for Folsom Air in Greenville and before that he worked in Aroostook County for Valley Airlines and in Portland for Maine Aviation.
In 2009, he was named the Maine Warden Service’s Supervisor of the Year for “his expertise in aviation, fiscal responsibility and supervision of two MWS pilots who provide all of the aviation needs for the MWS throughout the state.”
According to the state’s website, the Maine Warden Service’s Aviation Division consists of three aircraft and three full-time pilots, each of whom also is a sworn game warden.