June 23, 2018
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Jewel theft suspect among 7 indicted in Hancock County

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A grand jury in Hancock County has indicted seven people, three of them on drug charges.

Also indicted Thursday was an Otis woman accused of participating in the theft of more than $100,000 in jewelry.

Cassandra J. Murchison, 21, was summoned in February by Ellsworth police on a Class B theft charge months after after she and a Mount Desert man allegedly stole several items of jewelry from a local home. Police say the man, Stafford K. Venema, 22, took the jewelry from the home over a period of several weeks and sold them to gold buyers in Bangor and Ellsworth.

Venema was indicted on felony theft charges in February. Murchison was indicted Friday on an identical Class B charge of theft by unauthorized taking, which carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.

A Linneus man accused of being involved in a methamphetamine lab that was busted in Ellsworth in October of last year was indicted on charges of unlawful trafficking in drugs, unlawful possession of drugs and criminal forfeiture.

Jesse E. Sawyer, 32, and two other people were arrested in Ellsworth last October after local police responded to a complaint of suspicious activity at the Hampton Inn on High Street and discovered a suspected meth lab operation in two vehicles parked outside.

Sawyer, Jessica Jones, 29, of Fort Fairfield, and Ezra Brady, 22, of Bridgewater, were arrested. Each was charged with Class B trafficking in drugs. Brady and Jones each pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court.

Brady received an overall sentence of four years with all but one year suspended. Jones received an overall sentence of five years in prison with all but two years suspended. Both were ordered to serve two years of probation upon their release from prison and pay a $400 fine and $2,000 in restitution.

Sawyer was indicted earlier this year in Aroostook County on multiple charges stemming from an alleged burglary spree in northern Maine. Charges pending against Sawyer in Aroostook County include operating a motor vehicle after suspension, eluding a police officer, refusing to submit to arrest, receiving stolen property, violation of condition of release and failure to stop for an officer.

Also indicted Thursday in Hancock County is an Ellsworth woman who, according to police, is one of eight Hancock County residents suspected of being part of a “major” oxycodone dealing ring.

Brandie M. Higgins, 39, was indicted on two Class B charges of unlawful trafficking in drugs, one Class C charge of unlawful possession of drugs and criminal forfeiture. Class C crimes in Maine are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Higgins and the other suspects were arrested last December as police executed search warrants at homes in Ellsworth, Bucksport and Orland, seizing more than 33,000 milligrams of oxycodone, worth about $40,000; $35,000 in cash; and other items, including a Humvee, two ATVs, a motorcycle, jewelry and other precious metals.

So far, no other alleged members of the illegal drug dealing ring have been indicted in Hancock County.

Jason W. Simmons, 37, of Southwest Harbor was indicted Thursday on charges of unlawful furnishing of drugs and unlawful possession of drugs. Simmons is accused of having approximately 15 grams of cocaine with him last November when a car he was riding in was stopped by police in Ellsworth while en route back to Mount Desert Island from Massachusetts.

Also indicted Thursday were:

— Derek F. Conner, 27, Bucksport, operating a motor vehicle after habitual offender conviction, operating after revocation, operating under the influence of intoxicants.

— Dakota R. Eaton, 23, Blue Hill, theft, violating conditions of release.

— Mark E. Thibodeau, 55, Orland, operating after habitual offender conviction, operating after revocation, OUI, violating conditions of release and operating a motor vehicle beyond license restrictions.

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