AUBURN, Maine — A Lewiston man admitted to charges Friday in connection with drive-by shootings a year ago in Lewiston.
Brandon Audette, 22, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He also pleaded to having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, a misdemeanor.
He will be allowed to withdraw his plea to the felony charge in two years and plead guilty instead to a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct, if he has complied with all conditions of an agreement with prosecutors. He also will have to pay a $1,000 fine on that charge and a $500 fine on the firearm charge.
Police said Audette was driving a red Chevrolet Cavalier before dawn on March 21, 2012, when officers received a report of gunshots on Sabattus Street. The car Audette was driving was identified as speeding away from the scene.
An officer pulled over the car. Audette’s speech was slurred and the officer smelled alcohol then noticed a shiny object behind Audette’s seat that looked like a 9 mm bullet, according to police.
When asked about the gun, Audette first denied knowing anything about it then he told the officer it was in a box on the back seat, police said. The officer also noticed a spent casing behind the passenger seat that matched the live round.
Police said they later found two live rounds in a magazine in a 9 mm Jimenez Arms semiautomatic handgun in a CD box on the back seat.
Asked why he was “shooting up the downtown,” Audette told the arresting officer: “We were just being stupid, man.”
Police matched the casings found in the car to spent casings found on Pond Road, where a car had been shot that morning.
In separate interviews with police, Audette and his passenger, Frank Pomerleau, 19, denied firing the gun that morning.
Charges against Pomerleau were dropped. Audette was scheduled for trial; a jury was in place on Friday.
But a last-minute witness told police that a hand extending from the passenger’s window of the Cavalier that morning on Bradley Street fired three rounds at the ground. Those casings matched others recovered by police.
With that information, prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Audette and expect to seek a new indictment against Pomerleau, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis said Friday.
Audette must steer clear of the law for two years and refrain from alcohol and illegal drug use and possession and can be searched and tested at random. He must also perform 50 hours of community service and pay restitution to the owner of the car that was shot. Audette may not have any contact with Pomerleau.
Audette agreed that if Pomerleau is charged again in connection with the drive-by shootings and Audette is asked by prosecutors to testify about the incidents in court, he will do so truthfully.