A case against an inmate who died while awaiting trial is still pending as the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office tries to convince a judge that $6,000 found during his arrest and investigation is connected to criminal activity and can be seized by the court.

Joseph Daoust, 27, of Wilton, was awaiting trial on three charges — two counts of aggravated trafficking in illegal drugs, both class C felonies, and criminal threatening with a firearm, a class B felony.

Following his death at the Somerset County Jail in May, those charges were dropped against Daoust even as the case was left active in order to settle the money question, according to court documents.

Prosecutors are still seeking to prove the seized money was connected to drug activity allegedly committed by Daoust between May 6 and May 13. They will try to convince the judge that the money should be seized by the state over any claims by Daoust’s estate, which is being represented by attorney Paul Dumas of Mexico, Maine.

If the money is seized by the state, the forfeited cash will be given to the Wilton Police Department. The case was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed to Oct. 29.

Daoust died in May at the Somerset County Jail. An investigative report from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, released Wednesday by Sheriff Barry DeLong, says Daoust died of pulmonary hemorrhage, or bleeding of the lungs.

The origin of the bleeding and therefore the manner of death is undetermined, according to the report.

“His lungs filled with liquid and he basically drowned,” DeLong said. “They don’t know how it happened — it could have been a thousand things.”

DeLong said he can not release full autopsy results because the case is still an open investigation. He said his office and the jail staff have nothing to hide.

“No jail or any facility wants anything to happen like this, but sometimes they do,” he said.

Daoust was being held on drug trafficking and criminal threatening charges originating in Franklin County.

A corrections officer found Daoust unresponsive during a routine security check shortly before 2 a.m. on May 28. His body was taken to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta, where the autopsy was performed.

The jail administrator, Maj. Cory Swope of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department, said the death is not considered to be suspicious and no foul play is suspected.

Daoust was a boarder inmate, being held on behalf of Franklin County authorities, and had arrived at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison on May 16. He was being temporarily housed in a cell by himself.

While the sheriff’s department had said Daoust was from Wilton, the autopsy report listed Daoust as being a resident of Main Street, Houlton.

After he was stricken, corrections officers and medical staff performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Daoust, Swope said. Redington-Fairview General Hospital EMS was dispatched from Skowhegan to the jail.

Swope said Daoust was housed by himself in the jail because corrections officers had yet to determine his classification, medical condition and security level required for placement in general population at the jail.

According to Somerset County Jail protocol, Maine State Police detectives were called to the scene to investigate the death. Reports were also submitted to the Department of Corrections.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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