To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

Death of recovery house resident leads to criminal charge

By Stephen Betts | Feb 12, 2021

Rockland — A Midcoast man has been charged in connection to the overdose death of a resident of a recovery house in Rockland.

Philip W. Cunningham, 53, who was living in Rockport but now lists an address in Nobleboro, is charged with Class A aggravated trafficking in drugs. The charge results from the Aug. 19, 2020 death of 48-year-old Timothy Ochtera who died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, heroin and tramadol at the Friends House on Brewster Street in Rockland.

Ochtera was a veteran and worked as a carpenter for the past 20 years. His obituary noted he had a long battle with addiction.

Cunningham was arrested Jan. 14 and released on $500 cash bail. He is scheduled to make a court appearance March 8.

According to an affidavit filed in the Knox County court by Rockland Police Detective Sgt. Alex Gaylor, the investigation led Rockland police and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency to a house on Route 1 in Glen Cove, where Cunningham was living in August.

Cunningham admitted to police during an Aug. 25 interview that he was using heroin and overdosed as recently as the night before, but the person who supplied him drugs revived him with Narcan, according to the affidavit.

Multiple used Narcan bottles were found in the trash, according to the affidavit.

Cunningham told police he and Ochtera got the drugs from another individual Aug. 19 in the parking lot of the Townline Market on the Waldoboro/Warren town line. Cunningham said Ochtera gave him money, and Cunningham bought the drugs from Jacob Ingraham, then provided the drugs to Ochtera, according to the police report.

Police arranged for Cunningham to make a controlled drug buy from Ingraham. That occurred Aug. 25 in Rockport. Ingraham was arrested at the scene of the deal, which occurred at the parking lot of KFC in Rockport near where Cunningham was living.

This is the case where the Maine Attorney General's Office requested, and a state judge agreed, to the extremely rare act of sealing the arrest warrant affidavit. That affidavit was sealed for 90 days.

Ingraham, 24, of Searsmont, pleaded guilty Nov. 19 in the Knox County court to trafficking in drugs and was sentenced to nine months in jail and fined $400 for the Aug. 25 transaction.

Ingraham has not been charged in connection to the death of Ochtera.

The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition, which operates the recovery house where Ochtera died, issued a statement following his death in August.

"We are devastated and saddened to report the recent death of a resident at our men’s recovery house. Our thoughts and prayers are with his fellow residents, family and friends during this very difficult time," the Coalition stated.

"Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol has become all too common in mid-coast Maine and across the country, taking its toll on individuals and families throughout our communities. Deaths due to drug overdose have dramatically increased in Maine since the onset of COVID-19, up almost 50% from a year ago.

"The twin epidemics of COVID-19 and drug addiction has made recovery more difficult because of the separation and isolation requirements. Individuals in recovery are in need of significantly more connection, not less, to establish new patterns of healthy relationships," the Coalition stated.

Established in 2016, MCRC operates two certified recovery residences in the mid-coast area. Certification reflects the high standards of the Maine Association of Recovery Residences, mainerecoveryresidences.com.

The organization's goal is to "help individuals and families reintegrate into the community in an enduring manner."

"We remain committed to provide support to individuals and families seeking help and healing to address the challenge of addiction. We will continue to work together with our community to help to build a future where other families will not have to experience this type of tragedy," the Coalition concluded.

If you are in need of help or can help this effort, contact 701-1182 or email info@midcoastrecovery.org.

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps