WARREN — A longtime Maine State Prison inmate who had complained publicly about prison conditions years ago died Saturday morning at the facility in Warren.

Deane Brown, 53, died about 7:51 a.m., the Maine Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Brown had been sick for sometime and that foul play is not suspected.

Brown was serving lengthy consecutive sentences for robbery, burglary and theft convictions in 1996 in Knox County Superior Court, the corrections department said. His earliest possible release date was 2032.

Brown’s allegations of poor conditions at the state prison were the centerpiece of a series of articles more than a decade ago by journalist Lance Tapley in The Portland Phoenix. Brown was also a prison journalist for radio station WRFR-LP in Camden and regularly called in to shows to talk about prison conditions.

Brown was transferred from the Maine State Prison to a prison in Maryland in 2006, then to New Jersey in 2010 before being returned to Maine in 2013, according to criminal records.

He filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in 2007 alleging that Maine State Prison officials violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech by transferring him to the prison in Maryland. But it was dismissed in U.S. District Court in Maine in 2008, according to court records.

Brown, a Rockland resident, was convicted in 1996 of four counts of robbery, 18 counts of burglary and 11 counts of theft. It was one of the most significant burglary cases in the midcoast in memory, police said at the time. The crime spree lasted seven months, and during that time three homes, 11 businesses and five churches were targeted until Brown and five others were arrested in April 1995.

The gang used police scanners and two-way radios during their nighttime crimes. The victims in some of the home burglaries and one church burglary were tied up and their faces covered with pillows or newspapers.

Brown was sentenced to a total of 59 years in prison.

The Maine State Police and state medical examiner are reviewing Brown’s death, according to the Department of Corrections.

Stephen Betts of The Courier-Gazette and Maine Sunday Telegram Staff Writers Noel K. Gallagher and Beth Quimby contributed to this report.

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