BANGOR, Maine — The criminal history, recent convictions and new pending charges against a Milo man who admitted in November to stealing more than $40,000 in copper from Bangor Hydro Electric Co. substations, did not bode well when he was sentenced Tuesday afternoon in federal court.
The Colt 45 T-shirt that Michael Jered Weston wore to court didn’t help either, but U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said he wouldn’t hold it against him, even though “much of his criminal record is in relation to alcohol and drugs.”
Weston, 37, waived indictment and pleaded guilty last fall to one count of damage in excess of $5,000 to the property of an energy facility, and was sentenced Tuesday by Woodcock to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release during which he is barred from touching or consuming alcohol or street drugs.
“I’m going to require you be tested to ensure you abide by my order of no drugs or alcohol,” Woodcock said. “If you fail these tests, you’re going to open up another door to another jail cell.”
“I will remember you,” the judge said later in a stern voice.
Weston also was ordered to pay $43,236.29 in restitution to Bangor Hydro, which is now called Emera Maine. The case went to federal court because of the amount stolen.
“He has five additional convictions since he met with federal officials” directly after his arrest in July 2011 for the copper thefts, Woodcock said. “And he has two new charges initiated in 2013 and 2014.”
“It seems to me your client is out of control,” the federal judge said later to Weston’s attorney, Charles Budd.
Weston has 2012 and 2013 convictions for operating under the influence, criminal mischief, violating a protection order, and two counts of violating his conditions of release. He has a pending charge for domestic violence terrorizing for an Aug. 10, 2013, incident where he reportedly “threatened to kill [name removed], the mother of his children” and also was indicted for arson earlier this year by the Piscataquis County grand jury.
“That matter [the arson] has been pending since 2009,” said Budd.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore prosecuted the case.
Weston estimated that he stole more than 1,600 pounds of copper during eight break-ins between Nov. 24, 2010, and July 11, 2011, at Bangor Hydro facilities in Milo, Orrington and Brooksville. One of the thefts caused the power to go out in several towns served by that substation, according to court documents.
Since the break-ins, Emera has hired a retired Maine State Police lieutenant to oversee security. Former lawman David Bowler started working as Emera’s security specialist last year, and said after court Tuesday that sentences like the one imposed by Woodcock go far to discourage crime.
“I think it has a huge impact,” Bowler said. “People talk. Emera takes these kinds of things very seriously because it’s dangerous [when items are missing] to our employees and the general public.”