Bowdoinham home health aide who tipped off burglars about client’s prescription drugs sentenced to jail

William Smith, choking up, apologizes to the victim, investigators and court Wednesday for his accessory role in a burglary that took place in a Bowdoinham residence Jan. 21, 2012, on Carding Machine Road.
Darcie Moore | The Times Record
William Smith, choking up, apologizes to the victim, investigators and court Wednesday for his accessory role in a burglary that took place in a Bowdoinham residence Jan. 21, 2012, on Carding Machine Road.
Posted May 30, 2013, at 1:07 p.m.

WEST BATH, Maine — A former Bowdoinham man will serve 30 days of a three-year jail sentence for his role as an accomplice in a 2012 Bowdoinham home invasion and burglary.

William Smith, 37, of Pittsfield who had pleaded guilty to burglary, punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, was sentenced Wednesday to three years with all but 30 days suspended, and two years probation. The prosecution had recommended all but 60 days be suspended.

Prosecutors said Smith used his employment as a home health aide to become familiar with contents of the victim’s home and to direct two men to burglarize it.

Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador told Judge Andrew Horton that Rodney Skipper was at his Carding Machine Road home on Jan. 21, 2012, “when two individuals burst through his home unexpected and they committed a robbery.”

Miguel Rodriguez and Jorge Santiago “fled on foot from the Skipper residence and they were tracked quite easily in the snow. They were apprehended in close proximity to the Skipper residence” and were found in possession of some of the property stolen from the Skipper residence, Mador said.

Sgt. Dale Hamilton of the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department later found a backpack along the path Rodriguez and Santiago took after fleeing the home. Weeks later, a weapon matching the described knife or box cutter used in the burglary was also found along the path.

Hamilton told The Times Record the two men, who were from Massachusetts, forced their way into Skipper’s residence, held him at knifepoint and made off with prescription drugs.

“From the time this case was brought to the attention of law enforcement, it was obvious that this was not a random act,” Mador said.

Santiago and Rodriguez did not randomly select Skipper’s residence, and neither was familiar with Bowdoinham or knew Rodney Skipper or had significant ties to the state of Maine, she said.

In looking for the “linchpin” or link, Mador said, Hamilton was led to Smith, who was employed by the Break of Day agency out of Wiscasset, providing services to Skipper through that agency.

As a result, Smith “became intimately familiar with Rodney Skipper,” and was aware Skipper “had a significant amount of cash at his residence,” as well as a significant amount of prescription medication and marijuana.

Mador said Smith used to live in an apartment complex in Waterville almost directly across the street from where Santiago’s mother resided, and knew Santiago through his relationship with his mother.

“It became clear to the state that William Smith was the linchpin or connection that brought Miguel Rodriguez and Jorge Santiago together on Jan. 21, 2012, and committed the crimes at the Rodney Skipper residence,” Mador said.

Santiago and Rodriguez pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary. Hamilton said Santiago, 31, is serving six years for burglary and robbery; Rodriguez, 31, is serving six years, with two years suspended, for the crimes.

Mador stressed Smith was an accomplice and provided the information necessary to allow Santiago and Rodriguez to complete the crime at the Skipper residence.

“William Smith violated a position of trust,” he said. “He was a caregiver to Rodney Skipper, and in that caregiver capacity, he became privy to information about Rodney Skipper” that facilitated the robbery.

William Baghdoyan, Smith’s attorney, said his client is an active parent of two children and coaches his children’s basketball, hockey and football teams. Though he could be on disability, he continues to work, he said.

The sentencing hearing was continued from last week to allow Skipper to speak, but Skipper, who was traveling Wednesday, did not make it to the hearing.

Smith spoke, telling Horton and the court he can only imagine what Skipper had gone through, and though he has gone through rough times, “that’s nothing compared to what he went through, and I wish he was here so I could say sorry.”

Becoming very emotional, he also apologized to investigators and prosecutors who invested time in this case.

Horton said Smith violated patient confidentiality but commended Smith for taking responsibility and expressing regret.

He imposed the 30-day sentence to “recognize the acceptance of responsibility, and it seems to me that a 60-day sentence is more than is necessary to achieve the court’s goal in this case.

“On the other hand,” the judge said, “this is a very serious situation, and it seems to me that sentencing any less than 30 days would send a message to Mr. Skipper … that the court is not taking this case as seriously as it should.”

Smith is to report to jail July 8.

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