June 19, 2018
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Former Mechanic Falls police chief to serve no jail time in poaching case

By Sun Journal

AUBURN, Maine — Everett H. “Lenny” Leonard, 61, of Turner, will serve no jail time in Maine.

Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy suspended sentences Wednesday that would have jailed the former Mechanic Falls police chief for two counts of driving deer and one count of furnishing drugs. A September plea deal called for Leonard to serve 90 days.

The justice believed Leonard was too ill to serve the sentence, she said.

“This is one of those cases that makes you not want to be here,” Kennedy said. In the past year, Leonard endured prostate surgery, was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered a stroke.

It’s too much for a jail staff to manage, said William Cote, Leronard’s attorney.

“He is on a very complex regimen of medications, which, if not administered right on time, actually threatens his life,” Cote said.

Justice Kennedy agreed.

“I am going to suspend all of this,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think anything I could do today could have more of an impact on you than you have already had in the press, in your life or in your reputation, which has been severely damaged.”

Leonard had faced up to 42 years in jail and $84,000 in fines for illegal hunting activities in 2010 in Turner, Leeds and Auburn.

When Leonard and his son, Everett T. Leonard, 33, were arrested in January 2011, police seized hundreds of pounds of deer meat, firearms, deer antlers, bows and arrows, spotlights, a mounted hawk and owls, a computer, documents and other hunting-related equipment from their homes.

Much of Wednesday’s court proceeding looked at the drug charge, which carried a three-year sentence, of which all but 90 days was suspended. The counts of driving deer were reduced to one-week jail terms.

An investigator with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife testified Wednesday that he watched the elder Leonard sell oxycodone, an opiate painkiller, to his son several times, often with profanity-laced complaints over his son’s habit and his reluctance to pay.

The elder Leonard argued that was a tool for managing the younger Leonard’s addiction. Payment was a way of limiting the addiction and making sure a grandchild was cared for, he said.

“I’ve seen the drug scene. I’ve seen both ends of it,” he said. “We did what we thought we had to do.”

The investigator, whose name is being withheld at the request of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said accumulating money seemed to be the goal. He said he saw no sign that the elder Leonard was charging his son out of a higher purpose.

“Today is the first time I have ever heard of such a thing,” the investigator said. Rather, he said the elder Leonard bragged about his transformation from police officer to drug-seller and poacher.

“It was a big joke,” the investigator said.

Originally, an Androscoggin County grand jury handed up charges against the older Leonard that included four felony counts of unlawful trafficking of oxycodone and two counts of driving deer in Turner, participating in a group hunt to purposely drive deer toward a group of three or more people. There was also one count of trapping without a license and one count of indecent conduct, accused of purposely exposing himself to someone with the purpose of alarming that person.

Prosecutors in Maine had postponed their pending case here while awaiting the completion of prosecution against the two Leonards in Pennsylvania, where they were convicted of multiple hunting-related crimes in which prosecutors believed the father and son, along with several others, were involved in more than 250 illegal hunting crimes.

The elder Leonard was sentenced to 15 days to two months in prison, plus 18 months of probation in the Pennsylvania case. He also was fined $2,300. He is making monthly payments on the fine. He served his 15 days last year.

A district attorney there called the Leonard cases “one of the most egregious” hunting-related criminal cases in that region.

However, most of Wednesday’s witnesses portrayed Leonard as a hero.

They cited his work as a police officer in Auburn and Mechanic Falls and particularly an instance in which Leonard ran into a burning building and saved a girl.

The younger Leonard, who is facing ongoing charges in Maine, was among the witnesses. He said he has been in a successful drug rehabilitation program for more than a year. He pleaded with Kennedy to be lenient with his father.

“Please forgive him,” the younger Leonard said. “He just loves me.”

The elder Leonard’s ex-wife — and the younger Leonard’s mother — also testified. Though the couple divorced in 2007, they say they have remained best friends.

“Please have mercy on my family,” she said.

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