April 05, 2020

Convicted pump thief loses round in court

CARIBOU — A St. Agatha man, convicted twice of stealing a brass pump from Fraser Paper in Madawaska, has lost another round in court.

Earlier this week, a motion to grant Emile Collin a new trial or acquit him was denied in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou.

Initially, Collin, 58, was convicted in 1995 of the theft of the pump, which later was taken to Canada and sold for scrap. Justice Paul T. Pierson sentenced Collin to 30 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

The case was appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. At issue was whether the first jury intended to convict Collin of theft by unauthorized taking or theft by receiving stolen property.

The case was retried last November, when a major issue was whether Collin was involved in the plan to steal the pump from the paper mill, located on the American side of the border, while he was on Maine soil.

According to testimony, Collin received the pump after a New Brunswick scrap truck picked it up at the Madawaska mill, brought it across the border and left it at an Edmundston, New Brunswick, residence. Collin then trucked the pump to Quebec and sold it for scrap in May 1994. The pump had a market value of about $5,000.

After the second trial in November, Collin was found guilty again for the theft of the pump. Pierson, who presided over both of Collin’s jury trials, issued the same sentence, which was stayed pending further proceedings.

Collin’s attorney, William Smith of Van Buren, filed the motion for a new trial and motion to acquit.

On Wednesday, Smith argued before Pierson that the evidence presented at the November trial was insufficient to warrant the verdict. Smith also argued that the judge was wrong when he did not instruct the jury on state law regarding authorization and apparent authorization, a distinction that had bearing on the taking of the pump.

Smith also argued that the judge erred when potential jurors were not asked if they could decide the case without being influenced by possible criminal conduct in Canada.

Deputy District Attorney John Pluto argued Wednesday that there were several points made during the trial that could convince a jury that there was agreement between Collin and others to steal the pump.

Collin remains free on bail, pending a potential appeal.

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