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, 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 $8,776 resitution.

Pilsbury’s attorney, Sherry 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.

The offenses occurred between Oct. 26-31 in Augusta and on July 6 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. 29 and stole her cellphone, digital camera, car keys and several apartment keys.

Joseph Owen, who is employed by the Kennebec Journal, 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. Police at the time said that Pilsbury’s threats over the phone included the use of a rifle.

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 put it in a Dumpster at a 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. Eventually a man — later identified as Pilsbury — approached the Dumpster and then talked to the clerk. Pilsbury was arrested there without incident.

The clerk told police Pilsbury was staying on a couch at his apartment and police found stolen items there.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Tash said his client has been held in jail since his arrest on Oct. 31.

Joseph Owen watched the sentencing hearing, but 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 will be lodged against Pilsbury, and that sentence will be incorporated into Tuesday’s judgment as part of a plea agreement.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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