Louisiana escapee fighting extradition from Maine

Posted July 16, 2012, at 4:34 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Benjamin Gottke, the escapee from a Louisiana detention center taken into custody Saturday night after fleeing the Houlton Port of Entry earlier that day, made his initial court appearance Monday.

Gottke, 43, contested extradition to Louisiana and requested a formal extradition hearing in Maine, Aroostook County District Attorney Todd Collins said Monday afternoon.

That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7 in Houlton Superior Court.

“Officials in Louisiana are now applying for a governor’s warrant,” Collins said, which will formally petition Gov. Paul LePage to return Gottke to that state, where he is facing charges of aggravated escape and theft.

He is charged in Maine as a fugitive from justice and for resisting arrest in connection with his apprehension Saturday night.

Gottke, 43, had been at large since last Thursday after escaping from the Tensas Parish Detention Center in Waterproof, Louisiana, and stealing a backup police cruiser.

According to a report by Lindsey Shelton in the Natchez Democrat’s Saturday online edition, Gottke was serving time for simple burglary and had about nine months left on his sentence.

Gottke was spotted at the U.S. Customs Border Protection port of entry in Houlton, where he refused to show identification or the registration of the vehicle he was driving.

Gottke fled in the vehicle, heading south, and the abandoned car was found by members of the U.S. Border Patrol about an hour later at the Irving Big Stop truck stop in Houlton.

An alert was broadcast through local media and a resident’s tip led to Gottke’s location and arrest Saturday night on the corner of Park and High streets in Houlton.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said Sunday morning it appeared Gottke was planning on entering Canada in the stolen, unmarked police cruiser.

“He may have gotten to the port quicker than he expected,” Asselin said. “When he went to turn around in ‘no-man’s-land’ between the two ports [U.S. Customs and Border Patrol] was going to do a secondary check and he took off.”

Gottke is currently being held in the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

“It sounded like he’d been planning this escape for awhile,” Asselin said. “His jail garb was found in the cruiser and he stole that car July 12 and made it all the way to Houlton.”

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