AUGUSTA — A city man who sold $199 worth of stolen Central Maine Power copper wire as scrap will spend the next four years behind metal bars.

John Paul Stevens, 50, who had pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to the misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, was sentenced Monday in a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

Both the prosecutor and the judge said the offense was aggravated by Stevens’ lengthy criminal record for similar conduct and other offenses.

Stevens entered his guilty plea as jurors waited in an adjacent room to begin hearing the evidence in his trial.

Stevens was accused of scrapping new, braided copper wire that had been stolen from the utility company’s Leighton Road yard. He sold the wire April 27, 2015, according to investigators.

At Monday’s hearing, Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh told Justice Joseph Jabar that Stevens carried in 83 pounds of new, looped, copper wire to a scrap yard.

Cavanaugh said that Stevens has been receiving Social Security disability income because of a bad back, and that in 2013, while he was receiving those benefits, he also received $40,000 through sales of scrap metal.

Cavanaugh said no criminal charges resulted from that. However, Stevens and his attorney, Elizabeth Gray, said Stevens’ payments had been docked to repay that money.

Cavanaugh told the judge that Stevens’ criminal record dates from 1985-86.

“Mr. Stevens has an incredibly long record for this offense and others,” Cavanaugh said. “The only time he’s not committing crimes … is when he is in jail. If Mr. Stevens is out, he is committing offenses.”

Jabar said he was not suspending any of the four-year sentence because probation has proved ineffective in keeping Stevens from re-offending.

He also said Stevens has taken advantage of the Social Security system as well as the criminal justice system.

Jabar also denied a request for a stay from Stevens’ attorney, who said that Stevens was being weaned off pain medication he was prescribed for a bad back and that he needed to care for his ailing mother.

Stevens declined to address the judge at the hearing except for responding to several questions.

In a separate hearing, Rebecca E. Wood, 52, of Windsor, received a fully suspended two-year sentence and was placed on two years’ probation for unlawful possession of hydrocodone that occurred April 26, 2015, in Chelsea. She also was fined $1,000.

Wood, a registered nurse for 20 years who has worked as a psychiatric nurse at Riverview Psychiatric Center since 2014, will continue to hold her nursing license under a consent agreement being arranged through the state Board of Nursing, according to documents filed in court by her attorney, Robert Sandy.

Sandy said his client “is certainly willing to comply with requirements of the Board of Nursing and the court as we expect the monitoring and supervisory requirements are things she would be doing anyway.”

Wood also admitted to use of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana, which occurred on the same day, and was fined a total of $650 for those violations.

Sandy said that the consent agreement requires Wood to participate in a screening program for medical professionals and prohibits her from possessing illegal drugs. He also noted that if Wood violated the agreement, she loses her nursing license.

The case resulted from a traffic stop in Chelsea where Wood was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over for speeding at 12:30 a.m. that day. Troopers reported finding hydrocodone and marijuana as well as $3,500 in cash.

Sandy said in the memo that the court found that “Ms. Wood unlawfully possessed one half of one (hydrocodone) caplet, a fragment less than one-quarter inch long.”

He said later Monday that before the case went to a jury-waived trial in January, Wood had prescriptions for almost exactly the same medication, including a medical marijuana card, because Wood was dealing with “a serious medical condition.”

Public records of the State of Maine Board of Nursing show that Wood surrendered her nursing license after being terminated from Mount St. Joseph in Waterville in 2011 in connection with an investigation into drug diversion. On Jan. 3, 2012, she pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of scheduled drugs. Her nursing license was reinstated in November 2013 and was probationary for two years.

On Monday, the status of her nursing license was listed on the board’s website as “failed to renew.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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