ST. GEORGE, Maine — A St. George lobsterman has been charged with ordering the sinking of another resident’s lobster boat.
Alan B. Norwood Jr., 47, was arrested Wednesday night by a Marine Patrol officer and charged with felony aggravated criminal mischief. He was taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland and released on $250 bail.
Norwood is the third person charged with the Sept. 1 sinking of the 36-foot lobster boat Oracle owned by Joshua Hupper of St. George.
Vincent Hilt, 22, of Vinalhaven and Devlin Meklin, 20, of Warren were arrested the week after the sinking and charged with felony criminal mischief and felony theft. Hilt, who worked as a sternman for Norwood, had told police that Norwood had offered him $500 to sink the boat because he believed Hupper had hauled some of his traps.
Hupper denied those claims in an interview with the BDN, saying he had no idea Hupper had animosity toward him.
Hupper said damage to his vessel far exceeds $50,000.
Police had been investigating Norwood’s role since the arrest of Hilt and Meklin but investigators first obtained a search warrant for telephone records. Those records showed text messages to Norwood from Meklin’s phone on the night of the sinking asking to be paid for getting the job done. Meklin later told police that Hilt had borrowed his phone that night to call Norwood.
Norwood denied any involvement during an interview with the marine patrol officer and a Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputy, according to an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court. Norwood told the officers that Hilt repeatedly said he wanted to sink Hupper’s boat but that Norwood said he told him not to do that.
Two witnesses told police that they ran into two young men on Mouse Island early on the morning of Sept. 1. Mouse Island is located about 200 yards from where Hupper’s boat had been moored. Police gave a photo lineup to the witnesses who identified Hilt and Meklin as the two men on the island.
Police then picked up Hilt at his father’s home in St. George. Hilt admitted he had been offered $500 by Norwood to sink the boat.
Hilt told investigators that he contacted Meklin and the two stole a skiff from a float at Wildcat Lobster in Tenants Harbor and then motored out to Hupper’s lobster boat. The two went on board the lobster boat and cut hoses that allowed water to pour into the boat, according to the affidavit. The bilge pump had been turned off, according to police.
Hilt and Meklin then beached the stolen skiff on nearby Mouse Island and walked back over a causeway to where Meklin had parked his vehicle and left. The two, however, returned to Mouse Island the next morning to get the skiff they had stolen, according to the affidavit. On that trip, they ran into the witnesses who later identified them.
Hilt and Meklin towed the skiff out to the harbor, dumped the outboard motor overboard and cut it loose, according to the affidavit. The outboard motor on the skiff they were in died, however, and they had to be towed back to shore by a passing fisherman.
Hilt told police he had not been paid, but Meklin later told police that Hilt had gone to Norwood’s home that night and came out with cash.