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Final defendant in business break-in spree sentenced

By Stephen Betts | Jul 06, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts Police responded in September 2015 to a break-in at the J.C. Penney in Rockland.

The final of three defendants who were charged with a series of business break-ins across the state during 2015, including at the J.C. Penney in Rockland, was sentenced last week.

Michael J. Warner, 41, of Portland, was sentenced June 29 for four burglaries including the Sept. 3, 2015 break-in at the former retail store in Rockland. The sentence was for six years in prison to be followed by two years of probation. Warner's other pleas were for burglaries in Cumberland and Kennebec counties.

He was given credit for time he has already spent in jail awaiting the conclusion of the cases.

Warner was one of three suspects in 25 nighttime break-ins at businesses across southern and central Maine. Police estimated that the losses totaled more than $200,000.

His case had taken unusually long to go through the court system for several reasons including the state's appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court of a lower court ruling that had initially prevented the prosecution from using cellphone data. The state high court ruled in August 2019 that the records could be used, which tied him to the location of one of the burglaries.

In the J.C. Penney break-in, the alarm system was disabled and $10,000 in merchandise was reported stolen.

They were also tied to break-ins at Townline Video Plus in Warren Aug. 24, 2015, in which more than $10,000 in goods was reportedly taken; Flagship Cinema in Thomaston Aug. 31, 2015, in which more than $1,000 was taken; and Lincoln's Country Store in Warren May 24, 2015, where more than $1,000 was stolen.

Other counts were dismissed in exchange for the guilty pleas.

Warner had been held in jail from October 2015 until March 2019, when a judge lowered bail. He was later sent back to jail when he was charged with another burglary.

The cases against the co-defendants were previously settled.

Charles R. York, 41, of Portland, was sentenced in April 2019 to 40 months with time served for violating a condition of release for contacting a witness while he was in jail. Dozens of burglary charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Taylor Shultz, 38, of Limerick, pleaded guilty June 22, 2018, in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland to three counts of burglary in connection with some of the crimes. He was sentenced in 2019 to five years in prison with all but two years and nine months suspended to be followed by two years probation.

The cases against Warner were prosecuted by Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Carlos Diaz.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 07, 2020 13:38

Was there drugs involved? Were these repeaters so should serve full sentences? Parole just leaves the public with more questions.

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