MOUNT DESERT, Maine — A Hancock man pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing thousands of dollars worth of silver and jewelry from a local resident late last year.
As a result of the plea, David L. Hickman, 30, received a five-year sentence with all but six months suspended. He also was ordered to pay $18,840 in restitution to the victim, who lives in the village of Somesville.
Hickman was indicted last month on a Class B felony theft charge, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.
According to Mount Desert police Officer Ken Mitchell, Hickman worked consistently at the victim’s property for about a year, first as part of a contracting crew and then as a handyman hired directly by the homeowner. While working at the house, Hickman learned where the homeowner kept many of her valuable items, the officer said recently.
Mitchell said police believe Hickman took items from the home on more than one occasion, months after he began working there, in early November 2013 — about a month before he stopped coming to the house for work.
It was on Christmas Eve 2013, when the homeowner went to get her silverware out of storage in preparation for a holiday meal, that she realized her valuables were missing, according to Mitchell.
She contacted police, and when police approached Hickman about the missing items, he confessed, Mitchell said.
“He admitted to most of it, but not all of it,” the officer said.
According to Mitchell, Hickman told police he took the items because he needed money.
Among the items missing were candlesticks, a coffee pot, an ice bucket, a gravy boat, a tray and six tea cups — all of which are Sterling silver. Jewelry reported stolen included rings, earrings, and at least one bracelet and one necklace, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said police recovered a pearl necklace and a gold bracelet from Hickman, who still had them in his possession when he was questioned. Police have not recovered any of the silverware, which they think Hickman sold before the thefts were discovered, he added.
Assistant Hancock County District Attorney Mary Kellett, the prosecutor in the case, said Thursday the $18,840 restitution order was agreed on as a compromise in the plea deal. The victim estimated the total value of the stolen items to be about $36,000, but Hickman denied taking all the items that were missing, she said.
The victim received some money from her insurance company for the stolen items, Kellett said. However, because she did not have recent appraisals to determine what the items were worth, officials researched market prices of comparable items to determine what the replacement costs would be. That was used to arrive at the restitution amount, the prosecutor said.
Attempts to contact Hickman’s defense attorney, Dawn Corbett of Ellsworth, have been unsuccessful.
In addition to the felony theft charge, Hickman pleaded guilty to two charges of violating conditions of release and two charges of operating a motor vehicle after habitual offender revocation. He will serve concurrent sentences of 30 days and 60 days for those charges while in jail for the theft conviction.
Hickman also was ordered to pay $1,300 in fines and fees — on top of the $18,840 restitution order — and to serve three years of probation upon his release from behind bars.
Hickman’s sentence was stayed until Jan. 2, 2015, at which time he is expected to turn himself in at the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth.
Kellett said the start of Hickman’s sentence was delayed to give him time to finish several work projects and to earn some money to pay toward restitution. He is expected to pay $2,000 by Jan. 1, 2015, and $300 a month after his release from jail. He also will need to use $1,000 of his annual income tax returns to repay the victim for the items he admitted to stealing, which the victim did not get back, the prosecutor said.