AUGUSTA — A Pittsfield man who called Waterville “a cultural wasteland” after he was arrested there on suspicion of purse-snatching pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft and drug charges.

Jesse J. Peterson, 28, was ordered to serve a split sentence of an initial 60 days in jail followed by two years of probation. The remainder of the two-year sentence was suspended, and he was fined $400.

At the Capital Judicial Center on Tuesday, Peterson pleaded guilty to theft by unauthorized taking and unlawful possession of cocaine that occurred June 9 in Waterville.

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Francis Griffin, said Peterson stole the purse of a woman who was shopping at the Paragon Shop on Lower Main Street in Waterville.

As he fled, the woman’s husband chased him and saw the suspect run behind the Morning Sentinel building on Front Street.

Police found him near the Kennebec River, reportedly with half his clothes wet from falling in. As Peterson was put into the police cruiser, he yelled, “Waterville is a cultural wasteland!”

Peterson later gave police the purse — which Griffin said contained $1,000 worth of jewelry — while in the Waterville police station booking room, as well as a packet containing a substance police later identified as cocaine.

A motion filed in the case by defense attorney Thomas J. Nale, who sought a transfer from the jail to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for Peterson, indicates substance abuse was behind the criminal conduct. Nale said Peterson also pleaded guilty to misuse of identification, which occurred May 13 in Waterville.

Two charges of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer from the same day were dismissed. However, he was ordered to pay $1,612.53 in restitution.

Peterson was released from the Kennebec County jail on Tuesday following the hearing because he had been held on the charges.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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