Androscoggin County prosecutors have dropped a criminal charge of reckless conduct against a mechanic who worked at a Maine farm at the time of a fatal hayride crash in October 2014.

The crash at Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls killed 17-year-old Cassidy Charette and injured several other people. The driver of the Jeep pulling that hayride, 56-year-old David Brown, of South Paris, also was charged with reckless conduct; but in late September, a Sagadahoc County jury acquitted him of the misdemeanor charge.

Court records show the dismissal of the reckless conduct charge against the mechanic, 39-year-old Philip Theberge of Norway, was filed Friday in Androscoggin County.

Prosecutors also dismissed two of four criminal charges against Harvest Hill Farms, said Michael Whipple, the farm’s attorney. They dropped the charges of aggravated assault and reckless conduct, Whipple said, but the farm is still due to be tried on charges of manslaughter and driving to endanger.

The farm’s owner, Peter Bolduc, was not charged in connection with the fatal crash. The farm has filed for bankruptcy since the crash.

Brown, Bolduc and Theberge still are named in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Charette’s family.

A jury acquitted Brown of the criminal charge in September, after he argued that the brake failure in the Jeep that led to the accident was sudden and unexpected, while prosecutors tried to persuade the jury that he recklessly disregarded the risk that the old vehicle would fail. Bolduc, who testified at Brown’s trial, also said he was not aware of mechanical problems with the Jeep before the accident.

Theberge’s attorney says prosecutors had told him they planned to offer his client immunity in exchange for testifying at the trial of Harvest Hill Farms, which is scheduled for December, according to The Associated Press.

Theberge’s attorney, Adam Sherman, did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Androscoggin County District Attorney Andrew Robinson, who is attending a prosecutors’ conference in Bar Harbor this week, did not respond to email and voice mail requests for comment on Tuesday.


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