BELFAST, Maine — A Waldo man who recently pleaded guilty to planting homemade explosives outside the home of a Waldo County Sheriff’s Office detective last year was sentenced earlier this month to six months in jail in connection with that incident.
However, Jesse Newton, 25, will spend much more time behind bars — 24 months in federal prison, to be exact, for illegally possessing ammunition.
Newton, who has a previous conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, was federally prohibited from possessing weapons or ammunition, according to Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker. During a bail check after the Jan. 4, 2012, bombing incident, law enforcement officials found a gun and ammunition on his property. Although the gun belonged to a different person, the ammunition was determined to be Newton’s — and defense attorney Charles Hodsdon of Bangor said that federal prosecutors took the matter of possession of ammunition by a prohibited person very seriously. His client pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced on Oct. 7 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
“It was a joint recommendation between the U.S. attorney and Mr. Newton,” Hodsdon said. “This is what we agreed the sentence should be.”
After Newton is released from federal prison, he will spend three years on supervised release. He also will pay a $500 fine and a $100 special assessment.
According to Walker, state prosecutors waited for the resolution of Newton’s federal case before they sentenced him for setting off acid soda-water bombs last year in Detective Merl Reed’s Swanville driveway.
“Federal cases tend to have much harsher sentencing than state law,” he said.
Maine judges typically wait to see what the federal sentence is before assessing their own penalty, Walker said.
The case of the driveway acid bombs seemed to have begun earlier the day of Jan. 4, 2012, when Reed had arrested Newton’s sister, Juice Newton, on an active warrant. Later that night, Reed was home watching television when he heard three loud explosions outside, according to the affidavit and to a request for a search warrant filed in Waldo County District Court soon after the incident.
Reed went outside to investigate the loud blasts, and found a lot of new, shiny roofing nails in his driveway, three plastic soda bottles that had exploded and several other soda bottles that had not exploded, according to the affidavit. No one was injured. Police investigating the bombs determined that the only place in the area that would sell nails at night was Belfast Variety, and then learned that Jesse Newton had purchased a pound of roofing nails and nothing else earlier that evening.
Walker said that after Newton was arrested, police went to his house to search for items that might be connected, including soda bottles, toilet bowl cleaner, reactive chemicals, tin foil and roofing nails. Officers also found a pound of marijuana, Walker said, a matter which was referred to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.
Newton was arrested the day after the explosions and charged with criminal use of explosives, aggravated possession of marijuana and violation of a protection order, according to BDN archives. His bail was initially set at $100,000 surety or $15,000 cash. Newton has been locked up since November 2012 after violating his conditions of release, and already has served his six-month state sentence and six months of his federal sentence, Walker said.
Newton’s two-year federal sentence was satisfactory to Reed, the victim of the driveway bombing, Walker said.