PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — An off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent from Jackman was hit with several charges this week after allegedly setting off fireworks inside and outside his hotel room in Presque Isle.
Presque Isle Police Chief Matt Irwin said in a written statement Wednesday that the incident took place on Tuesday just before midnight at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center on Main Street, which is located near the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
According to Irwin, Michael Mielnicki, 38, was setting off fireworks in his hotel room and in the parking lot, disturbing other guests. When officers approached Mielnicki, he became combative. He was charged with refusing to submit to arrest or detention, criminal mischief, cruelty to animals, possession of a usable amount of marijuana and disorderly conduct.
Presque Isle police Deputy Chief Laurie Kelly explained later Wednesday that Mielnicki was charged with cruelty to animals because he had his work-issued canine with him in the room at the time he was setting off the fireworks, and the dog was “a little traumatized.” She said she was not exactly sure the type of fireworks Mielnicki possessed, but it was a wide variety of “fairly large, commercial grade type” products.
Kelly said that the interior of the hotel room was damaged, but she could not estimate the cost of that damage. A manager at the hotel said Wednesday that he did not wish to comment.
“He is in enough trouble already, so I won’t comment,” the manager said.
Kelly said the marijuana was allegedly found in Mielnicki’s room.
Irwin’s statement indicated that during the investigation Mielnicki identified himself as a border patrol agent assigned to the Department of Homeland Security at the Jackman station.
Michelle Benson-Fuller, spokesperson with Customs and Border Protection, said Wednesday that the agency planned to cooperate fully with the investigation.
“Customs and Border Protection stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” she said. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”
Last year, Mielnicki was one of seven U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents honored in Washington, D.C. They were given the Newton-Azrak Award for the rescue efforts they undertook on July 19, 2011, when a 5-year-old boy was killed after a Canadian driver fell asleep at the wheel of his tractor-trailer truck and the rig flipped over and spilled its tree-length load of logs onto the house where Liam Mahaney was asleep on a couch.
The men were recognized for disregarding their own safety “as they courageously crawled and dug through the wreckage and rubble during the unsuccessful attempt to rescue” the boy.
Mielnicki was taken to the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton following his arrest Tuesday and was released on bail Wednesday. He is scheduled to appear in Presque Isle District Court on Jan. 22.