DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Maine Warden Service’s chief pilot pleaded no contest Tuesday morning in Piscataquis County Superior Court to a disorderly conduct charge.
On June 3, Charles Later was charged with domestic violence assault, obstructing the report of a crime and criminal mischief. Those charges were dropped.
District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said he had to drop the charges because the victim, Later’s wife, refused to cooperate with his office.
“The victim has been reluctant to work with us at all,” said Almy. “The impression is she won’t cooperate with our office to prosecute this case.”
Later, 54, of Shirley was accused of throwing items and food while he was intoxicated. He was also accused of shoving his wife and ripping the phone out of the wall when she called police. He left the house when the dispatcher called back.
Later had a condition of no contact with the victim. “We have no way of saying it wasn’t [violated],” Almy said.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson asked Almy if the plea was a better option than going to trial.
“Absolutely,” said Almy. “If we would go to trial, I have no idea what would happen [because of the victim’s lack of cooperation]. That’s not a worthwhile effort of our resources.”
Anderson then asked Almy if the reduced sentence was related to Later’s occupation. Almy strongly rejected that notion.
“I would not do something like that, Judge,” said Almy, noting that he has prosecuted police officers in the past.
Anderson ordered Later to pay a $500 fine.
Later’s attorney, David Szewczyk, declined to speak to the press after the hearing. On June 25, Szewczyk entered a plea of not guilty to the original charges on Later’s behalf.
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.
MacDonald did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
Later was hired as the warden service’s chief pilot in April 1999, according to Bangor Daily News archives.