AUGUSTA — A thief who tried to extort $2,000 from an Augusta couple whose home he burglarized was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison.


Jake J. Pilsbury 20, of Somerville, had pleaded guilty last week to three burglaries, one count of theft by extortion, one count of theft by deception, and five counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.


The sentencing was postponed until Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court so a victim of the extortion could be present.


Pilsbury also was ordered to pay restitution of $8,776.


The offenses occurred between Oct. 26-31, 2011, in Augusta and on July 6, 2011, in China.


In the extortion case, which was described in a court affidavit by Augusta Police Detective Christopher Blodgett, Pilsbury broke into the Augusta home of Joseph and Mary Owen on Oct. 30, 2011, and stole her cell phone, digital camera, car keys and several apartment keys.


Joseph Owen reported the break-in after coming home from work to find some items on the floor and others missing.


About 4 a.m. the following day, a man called the home and threatened to create more trouble if Mary Owen did not give him $2,000.


The extortionist told her to get the money from an ATM and warned her against calling police. She reported the threat to police, who were present for a second call when she was told to hurry.


The extortionist called several more times, eventually telling her to put the money in a paper bag, mark it with an “A,” and place it in a Dumpster at a local Cumberland Farms store.

An Augusta police detective escorted the homeowner to the drop site and other police officers watched the Dumpster as a store employee checked it three times, and then a man — later identified as Pilsbury — approached the Dumpster and then talked to the clerk.
The clerk told police Pilsbury had been staying on a couch at his apartment, and police found a number of stolen items there.


At Tuesday’s hearing, Pilsbury’s attorney, Sherry Tash, said his client has been held in jail since Oct. 31, 2011.


Tash told the judge the offenses were driven by drugs and a loss of a job.


“I’d like to apologize to the court and any of the victims that are here that were involved,” Pilsbury said Tuesday.


Joseph Owen watched the sentencing hearing, but he declined to address the judge directly.


The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney James Mitchell Jr., said Pilsbury had no prior criminal record. However, he also said another burglary and theft charge is to be lodged against Pilsbury, and that sentence is to be incorporated into Tuesday’s judgement as part of a plea agreement.

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