St. George man accused of stealing from fishermen’s cooperative seeks info leading to search, seizure

Posted Dec. 05, 2012, at 12:33 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The attorney for a 51-year-old St. George man accused of stealing a large sum of money from a fishermen’s cooperative has asked the court to order the unsealing of police reports that led to a search of the defendant’s home.

The district attorney said, however, his office will fight that request.

A hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 14 in Knox County Superior Court on the motion filed by attorney Walter McKee of Augusta on behalf of Robert Thompson.

Thompson was arrested on Oct. 3 and charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing at least $10,000 from the Spruce Head Fishermen’s Cooperative on Spruce Head Island in South Thomaston.

When police raided Thompson’s home on Oct. 3, officers seized more than $20,000 in cash, computers and all his financial records, according to the motion filed in the Knox County court.

The failure of the defense to be able to see the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant as well as the inability to see the motion filed to seal the documents prevents the defense from preparing its case, according to the defense motion. The seizure of his computers also prevents him from access to the Internet.

“The sealing of a search warrant is an extraordinary action,” McKee argued in his motion.

There is no need for further secrecy, he argued.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau disagreed, however.

The midcoast’s chief prosecutor said it is common to seal affidavits for search warrants when the investigation is ongoing as it is in this case.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said it has been investigating the case since the beginning of the year. Four search warrants have been executed, one at Thompson’s home in St. George, one at his camp in Rockwood, one at an unnamed Rockland area bank, and one at J. P. Shellfish in Eliot.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maine Marine Patrol also have assisted in the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

Thompson — who had been the wharf manager for the cooperative for approximately 20 years — is free on $100,000 surety bail.

The cooperative has about 80 members.

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