Convicted Gouldsboro panty thief begins serving new burglary sentence

Posted Jan. 07, 2013, at 5:49 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A former mail carrier who served six months behind bars for stealing women’s underwear several years ago is back behind bars for another six months after pleading guilty to burglary and theft charges.

Earle Covert Cowperthwaite Jr., 58, of Gouldsboro was accused of stealing metal pipes and wiring in April of last year from a house in Gouldsboro owned by Eastern Maine Development Corporation, according to documents on file at Hancock County Superior Court. As a result, he was charged with burglary and theft.

Cowperthwaite pleaded guilty to the charges in late November, court documents indicate. He was sentenced to serve six months behind bars for the burglary conviction and 60 days for the theft conviction. The sentences are being served concurrently. He also was ordered to pay a $35 victim’s fee.

The Gouldsboro man began serving the sentences on Thursday, Jan. 3, according to jail records. Why Cowperthwaite’s sentence was stayed beyond the end of the year was not clear Monday afternoon.

Cowperthwaite’s defense attorney, Charles Helfrich of Ellsworth, declined Monday afternoon to comment on the case. Contacted by phone, Helfrich said he would have to dig up Cowperthwaite’s file to answer questions accurately and that, at the time of the call, he did not have the time to do so.

Hancock County District Attorney Carletta Bassano, the prosecutor in the case, was out of the office Monday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

In 1999, when Cowperthwaite worked as a rural mail carrier, he was arrested after a Gouldsboro woman became suspicious that he twice had stolen underwear from her bedroom when he delivered packages to her house. She went to police, who set up a hidden camera in the woman’s bedroom and mailed another large package to her house. When Cowperthwaite returned to the house to deliver it, the camera recorded him stealing another pair of underwear from the home, police said at the time.

Police then obtained a search warrant for Cowperthwaite’s home, where they subsequently found nearly 150 items of undelivered and opened mail. They also found the underwear that was taken from the woman’s home.

According to previously published reports in the Bangor Daily News, undelivered packages found in Cowperthwaite’s home contained items sent by lingerie company Victoria’s Secret, mail order retailers such as Land’s End, and “many adult entertainment distributors.” Bras, underwear and hair spray were among the items that had been in the packages.

The following year, Cowperthwaite was sentenced to serve six months in federal prison, to pay $1,300 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release after serving his prison time, according to information posted online in the U.S. District Court of Maine case database. In September 2007, Cowperthwaite finished repaying the restitution money, documents indicate.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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