Biddeford man in shootout with marshals gets more than 18 years in prison

Posted July 17, 2012, at 2:19 p.m.
Last modified July 17, 2012, at 3:40 p.m.
Arien L’Italien
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office
Arien L’Italien

PORTLAND, Maine — A York County man who was wounded in a shootout with U.S. marshals and made the news again by circumventing jail security to have a tryst with a female inmate was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Arien L’Italien, 23, of Biddeford was sentenced to 18 years and three months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for assaulting a federal officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm and using a firearm during a crime of violence.

L’Italien’s long criminal history began when he was 13 years old, according to a press release issued by the the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“You are a very violent young man and it is only by the grace of God that you haven’t killed someone,” U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen told L’Italien when she imposed the sentence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

L’Italien waived indictment and pleaded guilty to the charges on March 23.

Under his plea agreement, prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge.

By pleading guilty, he admitted to firing four shots at U.S. marshals who tried to arrest him in January in Portland. One of them returned fire, hitting him in the leg.

He faced up to 20 years in federal prison on the assault on a federal officer charge and up to 10 years in prison on the other two charges.

L’Italien also faced a $250,000 fine on each charge. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, he faced between 17 and 18 years and nine months in prison.

L’Italien was wanted in connection with a stabbing in Biddeford on New Year’s Eve in which the victim was hospitalized with a neck wound, according to a previously published report.

According to the affidavit of FBI special agent Patrick Clancy filed in connection with the shooting incident, four members of the U.S. Marshals Violent Crime Task Force were searching for L’Italien in the area of Cumberland Avenue and Mellen Street on the evening of Jan. 27. Clancy said in the affidavit that the federal agents spotted L’Italien and an associate on Mellen Street, and the men began to run away when a task force officer yelled, “U.S. marshals, stop.”

After deputized task force officer John Gill then yelled for the suspect to “stop or I’ll shoot,” Clancy said, L’Italien opened fire on the pursuing agents.

“L’Italien turned toward Gill and raised his hand,” Clancy said in his affidavit. “Gill then saw a muzzle flash coming from L’Italien and heard a gunshot followed by additional gunshots. Members of the arrest team then returned fire in L’Italien’s direction, firing several shots. One shot hit L’Italien in the leg and he went down on the pavement.”

Clancy also said that agents found a .40-caliber handgun near L’Italien, who was treated at the scene for his bleeding leg and then taken to the hospital. The second man escaped during the shootout, Clancy said.

According to court records, L’Italien was convicted in 2008 of assaulting an officer and was convicted of theft in January 2011.

His tryst with a female inmate in early March led to his transfer from the Cumberland County Jail to the Supermax facility at the Maine State Prison in Warren and an internal review by jail officials, according to previously published reports. Cumberland County Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon said in March that investigators learned of a previous attempt while questioning L’Italien and Karla Wilson, 25, a transient, about their rendezvous, and the inmates told them they had been unable to successfully manipulate the locks on their cell doors the first time around.

The second time around, Gagnon said, the inmates were able to rig their locks so they did not close all the way, and L’Italien reopened his door after being checked in for the night. He made up his bunk to make it appear as though he was in it, and snuck from his cell in the men’s cellblock to Wilson’s cell in the women’s cellblock on the same level of the maximum security unit. There, the sheriff’s department believes, the two engaged in consensual sex.

The inmates coordinated their tryst by communicating through the ventilation system, according to a sheriff’s office news release, and carried out their plans between 11:50 p.m. Friday, March 9, and 12:50 a.m. Saturday, March 10, when L’Italien was spotted crawling back to his cell.

No charges have been filed against either inmate in the incident, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

L’Italien is facing an aggravated assault charge in York County Superior Court in connection with the New Year’s Eve stabbing, according to the York County district attorney’s office. His next court date on that charge is Aug. 23.

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