SKOWHEGAN — A South African man who was arrested in September after a scuffle with Skowhegan police is in federal custody awaiting a deportation hearing.
Khotso Solomon Ramafola, 28, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a Skowhegan court Jan. 22 and promptly was turned over to agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said. He was taken from the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, where he had been since September, to the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft before being taken to Boston by federal officers, his lawyer, John Martin, said.
An intake worker at the jail in Dover-Foxcroft said Ramafola was released to federal immigration agents at the end of January. Attempts to reach Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials through voice mail messages and email were not successful Friday.
ICE is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Khotso, who said he lived in Dracut, Mass., was kicked out of the men’s homeless shelter in Skowhegan in September and was identified as the man who tried to steal luggage from a home near the shelter on West Front Street. The occupants were home at the time.
Ramafola later was spotted at Laney’s Pit Stop on Waterville Road after a report of someone attempting to steal alcohol from the store and looking into customers’ cars, police said.
The man resisted arrest by Skowhegan police officer Herb Oliver, Police Chief Ted Blais said at the time.
Oliver was taken to Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan, where he needed three stitches to close the wound and was released.
Khotso was examined at the hospital and cleared to be released to the jail, according to court papers.
Maloney said Ramafola pleaded guilty to burglary, attempted theft, assault and refusing to submit to arrest. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison, with all but 120 days suspended, most of which already had been served, Maloney said.
Martin said immigration officials already had scheduled a deportation hearing for Ramafola before he got into trouble in Skowhegan, but he had no information on what had prompted the order.