AUGUSTA — Two long-term patients at Riverview Psychiatric Center were in court Tuesday admitting to behaving badly by threatening to harm workers there.
Charles D. Miles, 34, pleaded guilty to terrorizing staff members by threatening to kill a man who worked there.
Michael J. James, 31, pleaded guilty to criminal threatening that occurred Dec. 4, 2013, when he threatened to hurt and kill staff members; however, he ended up harming only himself.
Miles made his threat Oct. 10, 2013, to three women, telling them he planned “to stab staff with any hand made weapons,” according to an affidavit by Capitol Police Officer Meghan Fenton.
She said, “Charles Miles made it clear that if he is not arrested and removed from Riverview he will commit new criminal conduct towards staff and other clients in order to be placed in jail or federal prison.”
On Tuesday, Miles got his wish.
A judge sentenced him to four months in jail for the threats as well as for “trafficking of contraband in state hospital,” described in the complaint as having a weapon, and violating conditions of release.
Miles also pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal mischief for damaging a sink, a toilet and bathroom walls as well as a doorknob and a coffee pot, all at Riverview. He was given a $500 fully suspended fine and ordered to pay $1,690 for the damage, which occurred last year.
Miles was convicted previously of terrorizing hospital staff members in 2004, again demanding to be put behind bars rather than returned to the psychiatric hospital.
He has a history of bouncing among institutions, and on Dec. 25, 2003, briefly escaped from Riverview’s predecessor, the Augusta Mental Health Institute, with another patient after kicking open a wooden kitchen door.
Miles was 20 years old in November 2001 when was committed to the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health & Human Services after he was found not criminally responsible for setting fire to the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds in 1999 and causing more than $2 million worth of damage.
He had been in state custody since he was an infant and was in the state’s forensic hospital several times prior to that commitment.
Miles is now at the Maine State Prison.
When James made his threat, he had a pen and threatened to stab staff members with it — a particularly powerful threat given that another Riverview patient, Mark P. Murphy, was facing charges in an attack on a mental health worker last March 16 that left her beaten and bruised and with a penpoint embedded in her hand. Murphy later was convicted of elevated aggravated assault in that attack.
The hospital’s response to Murphy’s attack — to bring in corrections officers initially armed with stun guns to help control patients — ended up attracting the attention of federal regulators and costing the state hospital millions in federal funding.
James first came to Riverview in 2007 after being found not criminally responsible in Knox County Superior Court for multiple attacks on corrections officers in the state prison.
He was particularly hard to handle, harming the staff and damaging property. A 2008 letter from the hospital estimated James did about $20,000 worth of damage to the hospital.
The hospital is seeking to have him discharged, maintaining he has been cured and there is nothing more it can do for him. A hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court originally was set for November but was postponed at James’ request.
It is now set for March 14.
A letter to the court from Assistant Attorney General Katherine Greason last November noted, “Every patient who unnecessarily remains at Riverview represents a defendant whose time in jail is extended as he or she waits for a hospital bed to become available. For that reason, Riverview seeks to have a prompt hearing for this patient, and, in fact, for any patient for whom discharge or release is sought.”
James has been fighting that move because he then would have to return to prison where he has about eight years remaining on a sentence.
Harold Hainke, the attorney representing James, said Wednesday, “He doesn’t feel he’s ready to be released,” Hainke said. “He feels there’s more work to be done.”
When James made the threats to staff Dec. 4, he had “a chain wrapped around his hand and he attempted to hit staff members with it,” according to an affidavit by Capitol Police Officer Richard Alexander, which is filed with the court case.
Alexander said after making the threats, “Mr. James was locked in an isolation room where he cut his arm with a piece of glass.”
James was treated at MaineGeneral Medical Center, returned to Riverview and then taken to the Kennebec County jail, Alexander said.
For making those threats, James was fined $500, with all but $300 suspended, on Tuesday.
James remains at Riverview, Hainke said.