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St. George lobsterman charged in sinking of rival's boat

By Dan Otis Smith | Sep 28, 2016

Rockland — A third man was charged Sept. 27 in the intentional sinking of a lobster boat in St. George.

According to documents filed in Knox County Unified Court, Alan B. Norwood, 47, of St. George, was charged with aggravated criminal mischief, class C, for allegedly paying two others, Vincent Hilt, 22, of Vinalhaven, and Devin Meklin, 20, of Warren, to sink a boat owned by another lobsterman, Josh Hupper.

The Maine Marine Patrol began an investigation after Hupper called early on the morning of Sept. 1 to report that his lobster boat had sunk at its mooring in Tenants Harbor. According to the affidavit, the boat’s engine water hoses were cut, the seacocks were open, antifreeze hoses were turned on, and bilge pumps were turned off, causing the boat to take on water and become partially submerged. Damages were estimated at about $50,000. A day earlier, Norwood had told Marine Patrol Officer Brendan Bezio that he believed Hupper had been hauling Norwood’s traps.

On Sept. 3, the Marine Patrol received a report that a white wooden skiff had been found floating near Tenants Harbor with its outboard motor removed. The skiff was believed to have been stolen from CY Lobster’s float between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, and matched the description of a boat that had been beached on Mouse Island about 300 yards from where Hupper’s boat had been sunk.

Witnesses told Bezio they had seen two men retrieving the skiff from Mouse Island the morning after Hupper’s boat was sunk. The witnesses later identified the men as Hilt and Meklin in a photo lineup at Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

In interviews at Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Hilt and Meklin admitted to stealing the skiff and using it to get out to Hupper’s boat, which they then sank. They said Norwood had offered them $500 to sink the boat. Both have been charged with aggravated criminal mischief and theft.

Norwood had told the Marine Patrol that he did not pay anyone to sink Hupper’s boat.

A search warrant was issued Sept. 9 for the Marine Patrol to examine cell phone records that would show Norwood’s involvement. A warrant for his arrest was issued Sept. 27 and he was released on $250 bail.

Sgt. Matthew Talbot of the Marine Patrol said this incident and an earlier sinking Aug. 17 were unrelated and did not necessarily indicate wider problems among lobstermen in the region this year.

“Sometimes these things come and go,” he said. “It’s just one of the ugly parts of lobster fishing.”

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