BANGOR, Maine — A 31-year-old man Monday waived indictment and pleaded guilty to charges in connection with a carjacking and high-speed chase Aug. 24 while on bath salts and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Brian Swett, a local transient, had been charged with two counts of robbery, burglary to a motor vehicle, eluding a police officer and criminal speeding. He pleaded guilty Monday to one count of robbery, burglary to a motor vehicle and eluding a police officer at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor. The other charges were dismissed in a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office. That agreement called for a seven-year sentence, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said Monday.
“When you are driving in downtown Bangor, you don’t expect someone is going to carjack you,” District Court Judge Gregory Campbell said in accepting the plea agreement. “This would have a significant impact on anyone.”
In addition to jail time, ordered Swett to pay $4,666 in restitution for damage to the victim’s van that was not covered by insurance.
“Paying restitution is the least you can do given what you put the victim through,” Campbell told Swett.
The victim did not attend the hearing.
Swett told the judge he had a limited ability to pay restitution given his criminal record. He did not speak about the incident that led to his arrest but did say that he had struggled with drug addiction for many years.
The incident began when Swett broke into a car on Harlow Street, setting off the car alarm and stealing a purse, at about 3:10 p.m. Aug. 24 and was hitting vehicle windows in the Abbott Square parking area, apparently trying to break the windows to gain access to the vehicles.
Swett was gone by the time police arrived, but they found the purse on the bank of the Kenduskeag Stream in the area behind the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building.
About 15 minutes later, police received a call reporting that a woman had been forced from her vehicle while parked on the side of the street outside 262 Harlow St., police said in August.
Swett approached the woman, who was sitting in her vehicle, and told her she was being robbed. The woman stepped out and Swett drove off in her gold Chrysler van with her dog in the back.
Minutes later, Maine State Police Trooper Kyle Ouellette, who was traveling south on Interstate 95, saw a vehicle matching the description of the stolen van being driven in the northbound lane.
Ouellette turned and followed the van, which eventually left the interstate in Orono and then got back on in the southbound lane and headed back toward Bangor, according to previous reports.
The trooper attempted to stop the van, but Swett continued to drive, accelerating to nearly 100 mph as the chase continued, Ouellette said in August.
When Swett encountered a police roadblock just past the Hogan Road on-ramp to I-95 south, he attempted to elude police by driving up the exit into oncoming traffic.
State police Detective Brian Strout ran into the van’s rear, disabling the fleeing vehicle and knocking off its bumper, police said in August. The van also struck a dark blue Audi that was on the ramp.
Swett was arrested about 3:40 p.m.
The puppy that was in the van when it was stolen was returned safely to the owner, police said.
Swett faced up to 10 years on the robbery charge alone. He has been held at the Penobscot County Jail unable to make bail since his arrest. That time will be applied to his sentence, according Roberts.