A former chief of the Skowhegan Fire Department will admit to felony theft charges under a plea agreement reached between him and New Hampshire state prosecutors.

The plea bargain with Richard E. Fowler Jr. will mean that the prosecutors will request that he serve prison time, a spokeswoman for Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi said Monday. The spokeswoman said specific terms of the plea agreement have not been worked out, but said it is going to be a non-negotiated plea.

A non-negotiated plea is when a person decides to plead guilty, but there is no agreement as to the sentence, Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Monday.

“This can happen in the form of a ‘cap,’ where the state agrees to not argue for more than a certain amount, or in the form of an ‘open’ plea where there is no agreement as to what the state’s recommendation will be,” Maloney said.

Velardi was not available for comment or to clarify the plea agreement on the case Monday.

Fowler, 49, pleaded not guilty to the charges in November.

Hired in Skowhegan in May 2014, Fowler was fired Aug. 8 by Town Manager Christine Almand after about three months on the job when news of a criminal investigation came to light. He was indicted in October by a Strafford County grand jury and faces 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison if he is convicted of the class A felony.

The theft of money from a town government entity is alleged to have occurred between Nov. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2014. The theft was reported to authorities by a member of the Farmington, N.H., Fire Department, where Fowler was chief before coming to Skowhegan, Velardi said in August.

Peter Lamb took over for Fowler as fire chief when he left a year ago. A person answering the phone at the Farmington fire station Monday said Lamb has since left the department. The deputy fire chief, James Reinart, is the interim chief, he said. Reinart was not available for comment Monday.

Velardi said the theft indictment against Fowler alleges that more than $1,500 was stolen, but the investigation by the county attorney’s office revealed that it was “substantially more” than that. The money should have been on the books for the town of Farmington, but it was misdirected, he said.

Fowler’s attorney, John Durkin of Dover, N.H., has not returned repeated calls for comment on the case.

Fowler replaced long-time Skowhegan chief Tom Keene, who was relieved of his duties in December 2013 after his legs were amputated because of diabetes complications.

Shawn Howard, a former department captain, was appointed fire chief by the town manager in September. Howard also serves as Madison fire chief.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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