A Waterville man arrested Friday aboard a train in Connecticut after leading police on a chase last week through three central Maine communities faces prison time.

Ernest Almeida, 31, was in jail in New Haven, Conn., on Monday, and authorities said they hope to bring him back to Maine where he faces up to five years in prison on one of the charges.

“We are seeking to extradite him,” Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said Monday. “We have not yet received word as to whether he is going to waive extradition. If he does waive extradition, we will ask law enforcement to go and pick him up in the next week so we can prosecute him.”

Maloney said Almeida is wanted for eluding, a class C felony; operating after revocation, class D misdemeanor; driving to endanger, class E misdemeanor; criminal speed, class E misdemeanor; and aggravated operating after revocation, habitual offender, a felony.

She said the class C felony eluding charge alone carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Almeida faces charges from Waterville police and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office after they said he eluded police in Waterville on Thursday and then sped into Fairfield, Norridgewock and Skowhegan, at times reaching speeds of 90 mph.

Skowhegan police set up a spike mat on Middle Road in that town but the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee avoided the mat and became disabled. Police said Almeida fled into the woods off Middle Road near the Somerset Humane Society animal shelter and disappeared.

He remained at large until Friday, when an FBI agent aboard an Amtrak train in Connecticut heard him bragging about being wanted in Maine, according to The Associated Press.

Amtrak police on Monday did not return a call seeking comment.

The chase started Thursday when Waterville police Officer Tim Hinton saw Almeida driving on Main Street, knew he was operating after suspension as a habitual offender, and tried to stop him, according to Waterville Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey.

The Jeep continued to North Street where Hinton ended the pursuit at a supervisor’s request because of traffic conditions and the driver’s erratic operation, Rumsey said.

Almeida had led police on a chase in 2008 that reached speeds of 110 mph. He was later convicted of several offenses and his sentence included three years in state prison.

Maloney said Monday that if Almeida does not waive extradition in the present case, her office will seek a governor’s warrant and he would have to attend a hearing. Prosecutors at the hearing would have to prove two things: that Almeida is the person they say he is, and that the state has a criminal case against him.

Usually, people waive extradition because if they do not, they serve “dead time,” in which they do not get credit for good time served in jail or get special privileges, according to Maloney.

If he is brought to Maine, he would be taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta where bail would be set. The District Attorney’s Office would then proceed with a criminal case, Maloney said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

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