May 26, 2018
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Etna man asks for reduced fine after misuse of 911 system

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — An Etna man who was summoned by police after calling 911 to report the poor condition of his road has been ordered to pay a $350 fine.

Michael Smen, 52, appeared in Newport District Court on April 10 for the misuse of the E-911 system, a Class E misdemeanor.

Smen said he lives on Burke Lane, a dirt road. The town office was closed on that March morning and he didn’t know who else to call about the condition of his road, he said.

“If I need an ambulance, it would be pretty rough for them,” Smen said on Saturday. “Even the [school] buses have a hard time. It’s real bad. The cars couldn’t get down here. They bottom out. That’s why they needed to fix it. They slapped me for it, though.”

Smen walked slowly with a cane as he appeared before Judge Evert Fowle on Wednesday, where Fowle said the offense carries a $500 fine.

“I’ll take half,” Smen replied to the judge. Many in the courtroom laughed.

Penobscot County Assistant District Attorney Stephen Burlock said Smen had repeatedly called Maine State Police in a short period of time in 2006.

Fowle lowered the fine to $350, which Smen said he was all right with. However, after additional court fees, the total would be $430.

“You gotta deduct some more,” said Smen. Fowle refused.

Smen paid $100 of the fine on Wednesday and said he’d pay off the rest by next week.

The road was fixed by the town soon after his 911 call, said Smen. The road gets rough during the winter and spring, he said.

The next time he complains about the road, it won’t be a call to 911, he said.

“I’ll wait until I get someone at the town office [next time]. I won’t call [911] anymore,” Smen said.

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