Judge rejects 9-month plea deal for Kiwanian who stole $140,000 from fireworks fund, charitable group

Bruce Fowle (left), 62, of Bangor pleaded guilty Thursday, May 16, to two counts of theft. Fowle allegedly stole $100,000 over a period of several years from the Bangor Fourth of July Corp. fireworks fund and about $40,000 from the Bangor Breakfast Kiwanis between sometime in 2000 and July 31, 2012.
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Bruce Fowle (left), 62, of Bangor pleaded guilty Thursday, May 16, to two counts of theft. Fowle allegedly stole $100,000 over a period of several years from the Bangor Fourth of July Corp. fireworks fund and about $40,000 from the Bangor Breakfast Kiwanis between sometime in 2000 and July 31, 2012.
Posted May 29, 2013, at 9:22 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court judge has rejected a plea agreement that would have put behind bars for nine months a former Kiwanis member who admitted stealing more than $140,000 from the group that sponsors the Fourth of July parade and fireworks.

Bruce Fowle, 62, of Bangor pleaded guilty earlier this month to two counts of Class B theft. Fowle may now either withdraw his guilty pleas and go to trial or work out a new plea agreement.

Fowle remains on bail.

His next court date has not been set.

Superior Court Justice William Anderson on Friday rejected the plea agreement, according to Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County.

By pleading guilty on May 16, Fowle admitted that he stole more than $140,000 over a 10-year period from the Bangor-Breakfast Kiwanis Club and its sister organization that sponsors the city’s July 4 celebration.

Anderson said when Fowle entered his guilty plea that he needed time to think about the plea deal. The agreement also called for Fowle to pay $10,000 in restitution, an amount he can barely afford, his attorney, Richard Hall of Bangor, said May 16.

Anthony Bernatche, who spoke that day on behalf of both organizations, told the judge that nine months in jail was not enough given “the crippling effect” the thefts have had on the groups’ ability to raise funds. He also said that instead of giving money authorized by the boards to children’s charities such as Camp Sunshine, a camp for youngsters with cancer, and Camp Capella, a camp for children with disabilities, Fowle pocketed the money.

As of May 16, Fowle had not repaid any of the money, Hall said.

Fowle faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 on each count.

The Bangor Daily News helped raise funds for the July 4 fireworks display in past years.

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