PARIS, Maine — A Bethel land developer charged in connection with a verbal altercation outside the town office waived a jury trial in Oxford County Superior Court on Wednesday morning and will have a bench trial before a judge scheduled.
Rick Savage Sr. of Intervale Road was arrested this past May outside the Bethel town office after a selectmen’s meeting. He was charged with terrorizing, disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest or detention.
In court Wednesday, court clerks had anticipated he would plead to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, offensive language and refusal to submit to arrest as part of a deal. And, according to court clerks, the charge of terrorizing was a “no complaint,” meaning the district attorney decided not to pursue that charge.
Savage declined the deal and his attorney, Janet Mills of Preti Flaherty, waived a jury trial on her client’s behalf.
According to police records, Town Manager James Doar had asked a representative of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department to attend the May 14 selectmen’s meeting, at which Savage was present.
According to Cpl. Brian Landis, following the meeting Savage and another man got into a verbal confrontation over an issue involving the town’s sign ordinance, and Landis and Deputy Matthew Noyes stepped in to break up the argument.
Savage was arrested, Landis said, “because of his words and actions,” including “making threats toward the town manager.”
Savage and his brother Ron Savage were at that meeting to submit a petition to repeal the town’s sign ordinance.
Doar said he asked for the Sheriff’s Department’s presence after recent threats from Rick Savage. He said the developer had harassed the town clerk and sent someone to Doar’s home over a petition to remove the town’s sign ordinance.
He said Rick Savage had spoken to the ordinance review committee about changes he proposed to the town’s sign ordinance.
“It was not a bad proposal,” Doar said at the time.
However, the committee opted not to move forward with Savage’s idea, instead recommending an ad-hoc committee to look specifically at the ordinance.
Savage didn’t like that, Doar said, and petitioned to eliminate the sign ordinance. However, he missed the May 9 deadline to get his petition on the May 14 meeting agenda.
Doar said Rick Savage called the town clerk at home and yelled and swore at her.
After that, Doar said, Savage sent someone to Doar’s house with a copy of the petition. He said the evening visit was “completely inappropriate and a little unnerving.”
By midafternoon Wednesday, no trial date had been set.