AUGUSTA — A former children’s martial arts instructor serving 40 years in federal prison for making videos of himself sexually assaulting two boys argued Wednesday that the state should dismiss charges connected to the same incidents.
Attorneys for Wade Robert Hoover, 36, formerly of Augusta, spent several hours in Kennebec County Superior Court grilling detectives and prosecutors about the state’s role in the investigation and its decision to drop charges against Hoover in favor of federal prosecution.
Hoover in February 2013 pleaded guilty to in U.S. District Court in Bangor to producing and possessing child pornography, some of which showed him abusing two boys. Five months later he was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.
A month after his plea, Hoover was indicted by a Kennebec County grand jury on a separate state indictment charging him with 12 instances of gross sexual assault in Augusta on a boy under the age of 12.
Hoover also has pleaded not guilty to an additional separate charge in Somerset County of gross sexual assault on a different boy, also under the age of 12, in The Forks. Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Somerset and Kennebec counties, said at the time that the state would seek a sentence to run consecutively after Hoover completes his federal prison sentence. The conviction for GSA carries a potential 30-year-prison sentence.
Hoover’s attorney’s, William Baghdoyan, filed the motion to dismiss the state charge because of double jeopardy, which protects individuals from being prosecuted more than once on the same or similar charges after a conviction or an acquittal. Hoover, in a letter sent to media outlets, has argued the state used information from the federal court case to gain those indictments.
State prosecutors, meanwhile, maintain that federal producing and possession convictions against Hoover excluded the gross sexual assault depicted in one of the videos, which preserves it as a viable charge.
Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy is expected to reach a decision this summer, but Baghdoyan said her ruling, regardless of what she decides, will likely be challenged before the State Supreme Court.
Hoover was owner and chief instructor at Koshowarrior’s Martial Arts and the United Martial Arts academies in Lewiston, where he taught children as young as age 3, according to Maine State Police.
He was arrested Oct. 3, 2012, by state and federal agents at the Bangor Street office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine, where he worked. At the time he was charged with possession of sexually explicit materials of minors under age 12, a felony offense carrying a five-year maximum sentence.
Baghdoyan and Hoover attorney Peter Barnett spent several hours Wednesday questioning federal and state detectives who investigated the case and the federal prosecutor who delivered the guilty plea. Their questioning centered on the state’s role in that investigation and prosecution and which agency had ultimate authority.
The attorneys wanted to know why the state dismissed the possession charge that was initially leveled against Hoover and why federal agents waited several weeks, while Hoover was being held in county jail, to arrest him on a federal charges. They also wanted to know why federal investigators continued to meet with state prosecutors and detectives after Hoover’s plea.
An October 2012 memo written by then Kennebec County Assistant District Attorney Patricia Poulin indicated that even then state prosecutors anticipated at least one gross sexual assault charge out of Somerset County.
Poulin, whose memo reflected the sentiments of then acting District Attorney Alan Kelley, said that police arrested Hoover before they were ready to present a complete list of charges. The memo warned prosecutors to dismiss the possession charge against Hoover if he tried to plead guilty because it would preclude pursuing the gross sexual assault charge.
Poulin said the arrested seemed rushed.
“We had very little information at the time of the arraignment,” she said.
Maine State Police Lt. Glenn Lang acknowledged that police arrested Hoover early in the investigation, long before they could prove or even knew about all of his activity, because they believed he posed a significant public risk.
“What we knew for sure is we could charge one count of sexually explicit materials,” Lang said.
Hoover continued to be jailed on high bail until December when the state dismissed the charge and federal prosecutors moved to arrest him on the federal producing and possession charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Todd Lowell, while questioned by Baghdoyan, said a federal warrant was issued for Hoover’s arrest just days after his arrest on state charges.
Baghdoyan repeatedly suggested throughout the hearing that investigators and prosecutors stalled Hoover’s on the federal charges to delay kicking in federal guidelines that would have required Hoover to be indicted within 30 days of his arrest a trial to begin within 70 days after his indictment. The witnesses argued that the delay, while beneficial to the feds, was not an orchestrated maneuver.
“Mr. Hoover was detained by the state,” Lowell said. “The federal warrant wouldn’t have taken effect until the case was dismissed or he met bail. That’s in fact what happened.
But, Lowell acknowledged, “The fact that Mr. Hoover was in state custody allowed more time for the investigation.”
Lowell said Hoover’s attorney, assistant federal defender Virginia Villa, agreed early in the process to extend the timetable as she tried to hammer out a plea deal with prosecutors. Lowell said he had reserved time with the grand jury in November and December in case Hoover was released from state custody. Hoover eventually pleaded guilty without being indicted.
“We intended to prosecute him on federal crimes,” Lowell said. “By him remaining in state custody the time line did not come into effect.”
State Police Detective Christopher Tupper and Special Agent William Hoyt of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, worked together on the case.
Tupper and Hoyt described a partnership to help share the workload — Hoyt, for example, filed all the witness interview reports, which Tupper reviewed — but each claimed their investigation focused on the interest of their particular agency. For Hoyt that meant focusing on the federal possession and production charges. Tupper focused on the gross sexual assault charges that would eventually be brought by the state. Federal agents also used the Maine State Police computer lab, which has more examiners than federal facilities, to look into Hoover’s electronic equipment. Investigators said the cooperation is commonplace.
“We split the work,” Tupper said. “That’s one of the reasons it was helpful to have the special agent and I work together.”
Barnett said it appeared Hoyt was the lead investigator.
“You can call it whatever you want,” Tupper said. “I don’t feel that way. I was the lead in the state side and he was the lead on the federal side. I carried my weight. I did my job.”
Tupper said the activity that led to the videos and the gross sexual assault are “blended. You can’t have one without the other.”
Lang said all but 10 percent of the cases they investigate remain at the state level.
“We know what their guidelines are,” Lang said. “They want aggravating factors.”
Because federal agents do not prosecute gross sexual assault Lang said there have been other instances, like Hoovers, where the state has turned over part of the prosecution to federal agents while retaining the right to prosecute the assault.
“I wouldn’t say it happens often, but we do have those cases,” Lang said. “Any time I see production I know I’ll probably at least talk to a federal prosecutor about it.”
Lang denied making altering procedures of the investigation or arrest to help give federal prosecutors more time to conduct an investigation.
“We didn’t make an arrest to hold things up for the feds,” he said. “We made an arrest to keep this guy away from children.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 | [email protected] | Twitter: @CraigCrosby4