AUGUSTA — Police say a city woman with a long criminal record admitted setting a small fire inside her Sand Hill apartment last week while drunk and upset with her landlord.
Linda M. Gallant, 53, was charged with arson after the small March 27 fire at the two-story three-unit apartment building on 92 Northern Ave. owned by Paul Madore of Lewiston, who Gallant told city police had evicted her. She was arrested Thursday and held on $10,000 bail ahead of an initial court appearance on Friday.
According to an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court by Augusta Police Detective Eric Dos Santos, Gallant said after getting drunk off of “a 12-pack of Budweiser,” she got an idea to set the early morning fire in her apartment’s kitchen.
After using an expletive, she told Dos Santos she “set the curtain on fire.”
She told Dos Santos that she used a cigarette lighter to start the fire and yelled to alert her live-in ex-husband, who was sleeping in another room. She called 911 and he woke up and put the fire out with an extinguisher. Dos Santos wrote that the Maine Office of the State Fire Marshal agreed with Gallant’s description of the fire and recovered her lighter at the scene.
When Dos Santos asked Gallant why she started the fire, he quoted her as saying she was upset with Madore, who she said had recently given her an eviction notice and indicated he was going to keep her security deposit.
Gallant said she was “so stressed” about being evicted, since she and her ex-husband have little money, are smokers and have a cat, which makes finding another apartment difficult.
She also told Dos Santos that she was being treated for depression and doesn’t always take her medication. He initially interviewed her on the day of the fire at the Alfond Center for Health, where she told him she was going to seek help for alcohol abuse.
However, he wrote that she called him on Wednesday from a new apartment on Murray Street, slurring her words and admitting she was drinking again.
He arrested her the next day. The affidavit says Gallant told Dos Santos she had no prior criminal convictions, even though she has nine, including one for unlawful sexual contact.
Madore, who worked on ex-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign in Maine and has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday.
Arson is a class A felony in Maine, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.