MDI High School vandals get community service for bait prank

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 24, 2013, at 4:49 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — As part of a plea agreement with the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office, four teenagers who broke into Mount Desert Island High school last spring and dumped buckets of lobster bait in the hallways have been found guilty of misdemeanor charges.

Information about a fifth teenager involved in the May incident — a 17-year-old boy from Southwest Harbor — has not been disclosed because of the confidential nature of juvenile cases.

According to police, the five MDI High School students broke into the school in the early morning hours on May 31 and threw or dumped fish parts intended for use as lobster bait onto hallway walls and floors. Five large buckets of bait, or about 25 gallons worth, were used in the incident that officials say was intended to be a prank.

The five vandals fled the high school shortly before 2 a.m. when they were discovered by a janitor arriving for work, police have said. Initially, each was charged with burglary and aggravated criminal mischief, both of which are felony charges.

On Oct. 7, Bailey Stillman, 18, of Bar Harbor, Benjamin Wallace, 19, of Mount Desert and Drew Dagraca, 18, of Southwest Harbor each pleaded no contest in connection with the incident in exchange for not having to serve jail time, according to Hancock County Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellett.

A fourth defendant, Jeremiah Minctons, 18, of Southwest Harbor, pleaded guilty in June to a charge of criminal trespass and criminal mischief, according to Minctons’ attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth. Toothaker said Tuesday that Minctons wanted to resolve the matter before enlisting in the military this past summer.

In exchange for their pleas, all four adult defendants are performing 50 hours each of community service and collectively will pay $500 in restitution for the deductible on the high school’s insurance policy for replacing the library rug. Each student likely will pay $100 toward the deductible, officials have said, which suggests that the juvenile also will be expected to pay $100.

Most of the lasting damage from the ill-conceived prank was to the library rug, which absorbed some of the bait juice that seeped under a closed door, according to officials. The incident forced the cancellation of school that day, which was supposed to be the last day of exams for seniors.

Dagraca’s defense attorney, Steve Juskewitch of Ellsworth, said Thursday that the court-approved plea deal does not include whatever amount of money the school’s insurer may try to recoup directly from the involved students for replacing the library rug. He said he expects the insurance company to file a separate civil suit against the defendants to recover the entire cost, which he said has been estimated to be more than $10,000.

A dispositional hearing for Stillman and Dagraca has been scheduled for Nov. 4 while another for Wallace has been set for Dec. 16. According to defense attorneys involved in the case, the defendants are expected to have completed their community service and paid off their $100 shares of restitution by the time they appear in court for their formal sentencings.

Stillman’s defense attorney, Bob Granger of Ellsworth, said Tuesday that the agreement to drop felony charges against the students and to resolve the case with misdemeanor convictions and no jail time is appropriate.

“The [Hancock County District Attorney’s Office] recognizes this [incident] was intended to be a prank and that it got out of hand,” Granger said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/24/news/hancock/mdi-high-school-vandals-get-community-service-for-bait-prank/ printed on September 3, 2014