SKOWHEGAN – Two brothers charged with a total of 16 counts of burglary and 14 thefts in the central Maine area pleaded not guilty Monday in Somerset County Superior Court.
Scott Tucker, 28, of Hartland and Robert Tucker, 33, of Clinton are accused of pulling off a five-month series of daring daytime burglaries in which at least $10,000 in cash, home safes, equipment and coins were taken.
The burglaries occurred from March to July and were part of a string of home thefts in four counties that police are attributing to the brothers.
Other burglaries and thefts occurred in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Kennebec counties.
On Monday morning, the brothers appeared in court, each handcuffed to a leather belt around their waist.
Scott Tucker pleaded not guilty to seven counts of burglary and six counts of theft in Ripley, Palmyra, Embden, Athens and Pittsfield. He was represented by John Alsop of Norridgewock.
Robert Tucker also pleaded not guilty to nine counts of burglary and seven counts of theft in the same communities. He was represented by Paul Sumberg of Skowhegan.
Justice Joseph Jabar continued the men’s bail of $75,000 single surety each, but both men are being held at Somerset County Jail on probation violations.
The Tucker brothers were released from prison last year after serving similar eight-year prison terms for the same conduct. The pair “picked up right where they left off” upon their release, said arresting officer Sgt. Detective Carl Gottardi III of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.
Safes and other items were taken from dozens of homes after the brothers allegedly entered through locked doors or kicked doors in. In several cases, homeowners returned and interrupted the burglaries.
John Lingaitis, 35, who recently moved to Canaan from Salem, Mass., also entered a not guilty plea Monday to burglarizing the Canaan Pawn Shop in October and taking 35 guns and ammunition. He has been charged with two counts each of burglary and theft and one count of receiving stolen property.
During a search of Lingaitis’ rented home after the burglary, he was discovered attempting to bury the guns in his back yard.
Lingaitis personally appealed to Justice Jabar to lower his $100,000 single surety bail, stating he has a disabled 3-year-old daughter.
“My family needs me at home,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Jabar reduced the bail to $50,000 single surety or $25,000 cash.