September 26, 2018
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Maine man sentenced for drunken crash that killed friend

Penobscot County Jail | BDN
Penobscot County Jail | BDN
Phillip Tardiff
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

A Holden man was sentenced Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor to 12 years in prison with all but 30 months suspended in connection with a July 28, 2015, car crash that killed a longtime friend.

Phillip Tardiff, 55, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence of intoxicants just before being sentenced, according to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.

By pleading guilty, Tardiff admitted that he was drunk while driving a Buick sedan belonging to Margaret Park and losing control at a curve on Copeland Hill Road in Holden. The car went off the road to the right, then diagonally crossed the road and overturned in a stand of trees, Holden police Sgt. Gene Fizell said a few days after the crash.

Park, 49, of Holden was pronounced dead at the scene, and Tardiff was injured, according to police.

Police originally believed Park was driving because she had been seen behind the wheel earlier in the day, according to the district attorney’s office.

Tardiff’s blood alcohol level was 0.144 percent, just under twice the legal limit, according to court documents. Park’s was 0.264 percent.

In addition to prison time, Tardiff was sentenced to four years of probation and lost his license to drive for the rest of his life.

He faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on the manslaughter charge.

Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Tuesday that he, along with the defense, recommended the sentence even though Park’s family felt Tardiff should spend more time behind bars.

The sentence was well within the range of sentences that have been imposed in other cases of a similar nature,” Almy said. “Superior Court Justice William Anderson agreed and said that it was an appropriate sentence.”

Tardiff’s attorney, David Bate of Bangor, said Tuesday that his client wanted to accept responsibility for what happened.

“This was a carefully worked out, complex and delicate plea negotiation,” Bate said. “Justice Anderson recognized that and accepted what otherwise would have been considered lenient.”

Tardiff has been held since his arrest in November at the Penobscot County Jail unable to post $10,000 cash bail.

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