PORTLAND — Convicted forger Carol Palesky was taken from a courtroom by stretcher Tuesday before a judge could hand down a sentence that could land the Topsham woman in prison for up to 10 years.
Palesky, 57, sat slumped over at the defense table before paramedics responded in Cumberland County Superior Court.
Her court-appointed lawyer, Joel Vincent, said Palesky had been complaining of severe headaches before the hearing began. He said paramedics found her blood pressure and heart rate to be extremely high.
“This obviously was a situation where the distress was real,” the lawyer said.
Palesky was taken to Mercy Hospital, and she was treated and released. The hospital did not comment further on her condition.
Vincent said Palesky chose to appear in court Tuesday to avoid the appearance that she was trying to dodge her sentence.
“She wanted to come to court. She wanted to get this matter resolved today,” Vincent said.
Justice Susan Calkins did not set a date for the hearing to resume, but indicated it likely would be next month.
In August a jury found Palesky guilty of changing the dates on property tax cap referendum petitions collected by the Maine Taxpayers Action Network, a group she co-founded, to make it appear that signatures were collected within the one-year time frame prescribed by Maine law.
Before the proceedings were halted by Palesky’s condition, several witnesses testified about instances in which Palesky may have committed forgery while under indictment.
“Obviously, an indictment out there isn’t enough to keep her from forging documents,” Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said after the hearing.
Palesky was first indicted on forgery charges in October 1996 and went to trial last August.
Four voting officials from Portland and Bangor testified that petitions from Palesky’s organization were tampered with in late 1996 and well into 1997. Two of the four said their initials had been forged near the changes.
Robbin said the witness who had just taken the stand when the hearing abruptly ended had been about to testify that Palesky may have forged a signature on his marriage certificate.
Palesky’s most recent brush with the law came Saturday, when she was arrested in Brunswick on charges of drunken driving and reckless conduct with an automobile.