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Criminal Mischief (06/27/2018)

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State Police awards announced

VASSALBORO - A veteran State Police detective has been named the department’s Trooper of the Year. 

Lauren Edstrom of Biddeford received the honor on June 19 at the annual State Police awards ceremony, held at the criminal justice academy in Vassalboro. Edstrom is a 21-year veteran of the State Police and investigates homicides, suspicious deaths and major crimes in Cumberland and York counties.

The Chief of the State Police, Colonel John Cote, said Edstrom is regarded as one of Maine’s experts in children’s deaths, in which she has investigated several in her career. Cote said, “Detective Edstrom is a seasoned investigator who has been involved in some of the toughest and heartbreaking death investigations in recent years, several involving children.”

Edstrom joined the State Police in 1997 and patrolled 15 years in York County as a member of Troop A.  She was promoted to detective in 2012.  She currently is a member of the evidence recovery team and formerly was a crisis negotiator, bomb dog handler and drug recognition expert.  She also continues to be a member of the state’s child death review board, which meets regularly to assess responses to children’s deaths.

Trooper of the Year is the highest award given to a State Police member.  The highest award for a State Police retiree is Legendary Trooper; retired Trooper Michael Vittum of Brewer received this year’s honor. Vittum served the State Police from 1966 to 1986 and patrolled in the Millinocket and Bangor areas in his early career. Vittum later became a member of the former State Police Drug Unit and participated in the seizures of tons of marijuana being smuggled into Maine on small boats and ships along the coast. Vittum was named Trooper of the Year in 1982.

Bravery awards were presented to:

Jon Damon, the deputy fire chief of Mechanic Falls, who stopped at a crash site on the Maine Turnpike where the driver was trapped inside his burning car.  Damon put out the fire with his fire extinguisher and then aided the driver until the man was able to be cut out of the wreckage.

Detective Chris Farley who talked a suicidal man from jumping from the Androscoggin River Bridge in Lewiston-Auburn and then tackled the man from jumping in front of a tractor trailer.

Detective Scott Quintero for rescuing an elderly man trapped inside his burning home in China in February.

Other awards presented were as follows:

The Norridgewock and Skowhegan Fire Departments were given Colonel’s Awards for their assistance during the manhunt in Norridgewock eight weeks ago after Somerset Deputy Eugene Cole was shot and killed.  Both departments helped feed and lodge hundreds of police officers who took part in the search efforts.

Four Vassalboro neighbors were given Colonel’s Awards for their help in reporting and helping police end a violent home invasion, burglary and assault in their neighborhood in February of 2017.  Honored were Daniel Arnold, Robert Browne, and Ed and Cate Pineau. 

Trooper Marcus Reny were given a Special Award of Commendation for administrating CPR to a man who had collapsed in Turner in April. The 61 year old man survived  as a result of the trooper’s actions.

Sgt. Scott Gosselin of the State Police Crime Lab received the department’s Leadership Award.  Gosselin has been a member of the crime lab staff for seven years.

The other nominees for Trooper of the Year:

Corporal James MacDonald – Troop A

Trooper Jason Wing – Troop B

Trooper Reid Bond – Troop C

Trooper Tom Bureau – Troop D

Trooper Taylor Bagley – Troop E

Trooper Nathanial Derosier – Troop F

Trooper Jesse Duda – Troop G

Trooper Gavin Endre – Troop J

Trooper Corey Smith – Troop K

Detective Greg Mitchell – Major Crimes north

Detective Scott Quintero – Major Crimes central

Brewer tractor chase

BREWER (AP) - Police say a slow-moving farm tractor that fled a traffic stop in Maine led police on a nearly three-mile, low-speed chase.

Police Sgt. Nelson Feero Jr. says a Brewer police officer pulled over the tractor Tuesday morning after he saw it knock over a series of traffic cones in a construction zone.

According to local media reports, the 41-year-old driver got back in the tractor during the stop and “took off” - leading police officers on a slow three-mile chase toward Eddington.

The farm tractor was hauling a large piece of machinery during the low-speed chase.

Police say the driver is charged with failing to stop for a police officer and driving to endanger.

Hancock County drug bust

FRANKLIN - Maine Drug Enforcement says five people were arrested last week in Hancock County on cocaine and heroin charges. 

The five arrested are: 57-year old George Pickard, 42-year-old Christopher Abbott and 37-year-old April Abbott – all of Franklin; 37-year-old Marc Atwater and 33-year-old Sydnee Atwater, both of Sanford, Florida. Pickard was charged with trafficking in heroin, Christopher Abbott was charged with cocaine trafficking and April Abbott was charged with heroin possession. Both Atwaters were charged with aggravated trafficking in cocaine.

George Pickard and Christopher Abbott are accused of selling drugs directly to MDEA during the investigation and both were arrested this week in Franklin. April Abbott was in the vehicle with her husband at the time of his arrest and was found in possession of heroin. During these arrests, evidence was uncovered that suspects from out of state would be delivering additional cocaine to the area.

With assistance from state police, a Mercedes sedan was stopped on Route 1A in Dedham and over 125 grams of cocaine was recovered from passenger Sydnee Atwater, who was concealing the drugs inside her body. The driver of the vehicle was Marc Atwater. Also present were three young children. DHHS Child Protective Service workers were called in to make arrangements for emergency placement of the children.

The three Franklin residents posted bail and have been issued a return date of Aug. 7. As of press time, the Atwaters had not yet made bail, posted at $200,000 each.

Also arrested in April of this year as part of this investigation was 29-year-old Joseph Steele of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. MDEA agents - with the assistance of state police - stopped Steele’s rental vehicle northbound on I-95 in Newport. Steele was charged with aggravated trafficking after agents seized 57 grams of crack cocaine and 30 grams of heroin, which MDEA alleges were destined for sale in Hancock County. Within days of arriving at the Penobscot County Jail, jail staff caught Steele with a homemade weapon and he now faces a felony trafficking in prison contraband charge as well. He remains at the jail, and his bail is set at $50,000.

MDEA’s investigation has been focused on a group of persons involved with importing and distributing cocaine and heroin in the Franklin area of Hancock County. More arrests are possible as the investigation continues.

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