October 13, 2010 was former Amity Town Manager Darrell Williams' day of reckoning for the theft he committed against the citizens of Amity and a Millinocket businessman.
Williams arrived at court looking confident; the previous day his lawyer, Tory Sylvester, had asked for another continuation much to the dismay of the residents who have attended nearly every court date. Since the judge was not in on Tuesday there had been no ruling on his request.
With Assistant District Attorney Pat Gordon running for Senate, soon to be retired District Attorney Neale Adams was present with a new ADA. Adams went over a few cases with the new ADA, then left looking quite pleased. Victim's Advocate Becky Miller sat with the Amity residents explaining the sentencing procedure. She explained to the citizens what the state had asked for sentencing, what the judge takes into consideration when making his decision.
Although court convened at 1pm, Williams' case was not taken up until 3pm. Sylvester said he asked for the motion for a continuance so Williams could continue to work on the potato harvest; Justice E. Allen Hunter said the case had gone on long enough and he was ready to make a ruling. Sylvester then withdrew the motion for continuance.
Sylvester began his defense by stating that Williams was working 3 jobs, one full time for Corey Farms and two part time ones. One as night paper delivery for Bangor Daily News and the other as the preacher at the Monticello Pentecostal Church. Sylvester stated that Williams was making restitution payments to the town at $800 per month for a total of $2800 repaid so far. Sylvester also kept making remarks about the insurance payout to the town and the $8,000 payout should be deducted from the amount owed the town as the town had already recovered these funds.
Justice Hunter would have none of that nonsense, he stated that it was to the town's credit that they had aquired insurance to protect themselves and that Williams would have to pay that back to the insurance company also in time.
The State had asked for a 6 year jail sentence with 3 years probation following release, plus full restitution of the $41,000 he stole from the town.
Sylvester tried to say that there was an error in the court printout,that the charge had been printed twice. Unfortunately, the second printing had to do with the forgery charge Williams plead no contest to. Justice Hunter noted that sentencing on the second charge would be done after the sentencing for the theft charge.
Then Sylvester tried a different track, he asked that Williams only receive probation for his crimes. He stated that many times lately he had read articles in the Bangor Daily of town officials stealing much larger amounts and only getting probation. He cited the case in Newburg where $200,000 had been misappropriated and the thief had only gotten probation. Sylvester claimed that the amount Williams stole was only a small amount in comparison.
The ADA also noted that for a town of 200 people, that are mostly disabled or fixed income, $41,000 is a tremendous amount and placed hardships on the residents.
Justice Hunter asked if any plea deal was in place and the ADA responded negatively. Sylvester then tried to claim he had made a deal with DA Addams. Sylvester claimed he had cut the deal earlier in the afternoon before Adams left. The ADA stoutly denied any deal was made and Victim's Advocate Miller said she had not been informed of any deal.
Then they offered to go downstairs to bring Adams right up and Miller left the courtroom to find him. While waiting for Adams to return, Justice Hunter went over the Victim's Impact statements and the "Plea for Justice" petition signed by 155 Amity residents.
And the clock ticked on, while Sylvester and Williams went over the papers speaking quietly. A much different attitude than the joking and jovial laughter they shared while waiting for his case to be called.
Enter a bemused looking Adams and see Sylvester's jaw drop. Sylvester had appeared confident that Adams was long gone. What an opportunity to hoodwink the new young ADA.
Justice Hunter asked Adams if he had negotiated a plea deal today, Adams smiled and said no. Adams referred to his notes and reminded Justice Hunter that they had offered to defer dispensation of the case if the restitution had been paid by March 3, and again in May he had made an offer, but that was only good if the defendant had repaid the entire $41,000 by those dates.
Justice Hunter asked if it was an open plea, open to full sentencing and noted that the defendant had plenty of opportunity for restitution.
Then Williams spoke in his own behalf. He whined out an apology to the town and the residents he had hurt. He claimed to still have many friends and good neighbors in Amity as it was his home town. He said he admitted to the Selectmen that he had taken the money when they first questioned him and told them it was a great relief off his shoulders to confess.
With a shaking voice, he said he had gone through a recovery program called Celebrate Recovery and did so well that he had obtained a leadership position with the group and had begun teaching the course at his church. No reason was given as to why Williams needed to go to such a program.
Then he began preaching to the judge what a good guy he really was, he had just made a terrible mistake. "Why I could have brought in a whole bunch of people to say what a good guy I am," stated Williams.
Justice Hunter explained the three steps he has to take into consideration when he imposes a sentence. First he has to refer and establish a base sentence, then a maximum sentence, and reasons to increase or decrease the sentence, and see if suspension of some of the sentence would promote the community good.
Justice Hunter noted that this case is a breach of Public Trust made even worse because "the public who suffered the loss were family and friends. This was not an anonymous Theft!" stated Hunter.
With a 10 year maximum jail sentence available, 5 years is the medium sentence. The State has asked for 6 years in jail with all but 2 years suspended, 3 years probation to follow release, and full restitution to the town. Justice Hunter explained he had to take in both mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case.
On the mitigating (good) side, Williams had admitted his crime and he had no criminal record. On the aggravating (bad) side, Justice Hunter noted that there was significant impact on the victims in many ways such as the embarrassment and shame he had caused the victims. "Better than 75% of the population signed what I can only describe as a Plea for Justice and others wrote Victim's Impact statements," stated Justice Hunter, "Weddings were not recorded, motor vehicle registrations were not right, this caused a number of people significant personal and financial problems. The residents feel a great deal of personal violation because of your actions Mr. Williams"
Justice Hunter also noted, "I see no expression of true remorse in you, Mr. Williams, you seem to continue to be more concerned about yourself than the victims. You are in denial, Mr. Williams, when you characterize your conduct as simply misguided."
Justice Hunter's voice thundered across the room as he loudly stated, "You are a thief, not a misguided person; this was willful and intentional theft!"
Hunter noted that it is a character flaw when you commit another crime while out on bail. Considering the circumstances, Justice Hunter increased the 5 to a 6 year maximum sentence.Then he pronounced a sentence of 6 years in jail with all but 12 months suspended, 3 years probation. 38,200 in restitution to the town must be paid within 30 months of the 36 month probation period at a rate of at least $500 per month. This amount is to be paid to the town, a public entity, before repaying the insurance company. Williams must also pay $25 to the victim fund (that amount was due immediately), and $10 per month to probation services.
Then Williams was sentenced on the Forgery charge. He gave Williams 6 more months in jail for a total of 18 months with the 6 month sentence being served first. Williams must also pay full restitution and 3 years probation. Justice Hunter also informed the spectators that Williams does have the right to appeal this decision, then remanded him to jail.
Sylvester appealed for them to hold off incarcerating him so he could finish working the harvest. Justice Hunter denied the request. Williams handed his keys and what appeared to be a cell phone to his lawyer and the cuffs went on.
We would like to thank Victim's Advocate Becky Miller for all of her hard work, her continued encouragement and communication with the citizens, and mostly for putting up with us. Thanks Becky!
We should also thank Assistant District Attorney Patric Gordon for all his hard work on the case, we wish he could have been there for the ending.
District Attorney Neale Adams, thanks for all your hard work and hanging around until just the right time; enjoy your retirement.
We would like to thank Justice E. Allen Hunter for administering Justice for the citizens of Amity.
Most of all we would like to thank thank the citizens who persisted in attending every court appearance to show the faces of the victims.