SKOWHEGAN — A resident of the men’s homeless shelter in Skowhegan was arrested Wednesday for allegedly buying bottled water with public assistance money, then dumping the water out to collect the 5-cent deposit on each bottle, police said Monday.

Brian Trueman, 32, who was on probation for domestic violence convictions, was caught on video returning the empty water bottles for cash, Skowhegan Police Chief Don Bolduc said.

He was arrested on a probation violation for the alleged new criminal conduct — trafficking in public benefits — for which he was issued a summons.

His total take was about $4.50, or about 90 water bottles, Bolduc said. All the returned bottles were from the dumped water, Bolduc said.

“I’m totally disgusted by this,” Bolduc said. “This is probably the biggest abuse of funds when it comes to what the intent is, which is for food. I’m appalled at the waste and the abuse. Unfortunately this type of thing is going on and in scenarios like it, with people abusing the program.”

Trafficking in public benefits is a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

The water was bought at George’s Banana Stand and returned at the nearby Beverage Mart on North Avenue, which houses a redemption center.

Bolduc said the Skowhegan Police Department was asked to assist the Maine Department of Health and Human Services with the investigation last week. He said Trueman was seen dumping the water after he bought it, and police got store video of Trueman returning the bottles.

Trueman is on probation following convictions in March for violating a protection from abuse order and domestic violence assault, both Jan. 27, in Skowhegan.

He was given a 364-day jail sentence, all but 14 days suspended and two years of probation, according to court records. A charge of reckless violation of a protection order, also on Jan. 27 in Skowhegan, was dismissed.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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