Second defendant pleads guilty in Phillips metal theft

Posted April 11, 2013, at 8:50 p.m.

FARMINGTON, Maine — A Chelsea man pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing metal items from the abandoned USA Concrete Plant in Phillips in November 2012, according to court documents.

Judge Susan Oram sentenced Robert Arris Jr., 35, to serve six months of a five-year sentence and two years of probation, according to court documents.

Arris was ordered to serve the sentence concurrent with a burglary sentence in Kennebec County.

Arris pleaded guilty to felony burglary and theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. He is one of four co-defendants in the case.

Arris’ fiancee, Angelique Henderson, 34, of West Paris, pleaded guilty in March to felony burglary and theft in the case. Her attorney, Christopher Berryment, told the court it was an Alford plea. That means she did not admit the act but admitted the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court finds the person guilty of the charges under the plea.

Berryment said in March that his client disputed the intent to steal the items and believed they had permission to take the metal. She was given a 12-month deferred sentence and was required to do 40 hours of public service. If she completes the agreement, she will be allowed to withdraw her pleas and plead guilty to criminal mischief.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins told the court during her plea hearing in March that if the case went to trial, Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Brann would have testified that on Nov. 14 he stopped a truck that contained a large amount of metal and appeared to be overloaded.

Brann would also testify that he had the truck impounded for safety reasons, Robbins said.

County Detective David St. Laurent would testify that he contacted the owner of the former USA Concrete in Canada and was told that no one had permission to be on the property.

Brann would testify that he took an employee of the owners to the plant and then to a garage where the truck was impounded and he identified the material in it as being from the concrete plant, Robbins said.

Among the items in the truck and trailer were concrete chutes, motors and other metal items.

Robbins said Arris confessed to taking the metal and that Henderson helped load it in the vehicle. Shawn Michaud, 33, of Augusta also admitted to being involved.

Arris, Henderson, Michaud and Jennifer Tripp, 38, of Readfield were indicted on felony burglary and theft charges in January.

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