ALFRED — The former Ogunquit town manager who is on trial for theft and official oppression charges took the witness stand Tuesday and denied improperly charging for parking last July Fourth.

Thomas Fortier’s testimony during the second day of his trial at the York County Courthouse directly contradicted that of two teenagers, who said that Fortier, their boss, had instructed them to charge for parking for about an hour at a town-owned lot in the early evening on the busy holiday.

When asked whether he believed that the teens – Cody Cousins, 19, and his 17-year-old brother – had lied when they testified Monday, Fortier avoided the question.

“That’s not for me to say,” he said during his brief testimony.

Fortier is charged with misdemeanor theft of $400 in improperly collected parking fees. His alleged failure to turn the money over to the town also generated a charge of misdemeanor official oppression, when a public servant acts to intentionally benefit himself but purports that the conduct is part of his office, or fails to perform some official duty of his office.

According to the state, Fortier took responsibility for managing the lower lot parking area near the beach in Ogunquit on July 4, 2016, and for about one hour in the evening, directed two employees – the Cousins brothers – to accept payment for parking at the town-owned lot after it was supposed to be free.

Fortier and his crew arrived at the parking lot around 4 p.m. They were supposed to make sure that a minimum number of parking spaces vacated by drivers leaving remained available for volunteers who helped at the town’s July Fourth celebration, and for a woman who was supposed to sing the national anthem that night.

But the singer and volunteers never showed up to claim their free parking spaces.

Cousins said he gave Fortier money periodically as he collected it, and he saw Fortier put it in his pocket.

Fortier’s time in town government had been the source of considerable consternation among residents, including his use of the town credit card for personal expenses and a 2012 case in which he was suspected in the theft of $10,200 in parking fees from a Town Hall safe. He was never prosecuted for that incident.

After he was summonsed in August 2016, Fortier resigned on Feb. 7, 2017, but was paid his usual $125,000 annual salary until June 30 as part of a severance deal with the town.

During his testimony, Fortier also attempted to explain testimony from Monday by Ogunquit Police Chief Patricia Arnaudin, who said she had a conversation with Fortier after he was charged, in which Fortier said he would not call the teens liars, and that he brought the situation on himself.

Fortier said his remarks to the police chief came out of frustration.

“I never wanted to involve those kids in small-town politics,” Fortier said.

He also attempted to rebut the suggestion made by another witness that Fortier was on shaky financial footing.

Mark O’Brien, the Ogunquit fire chief who was appointed as interim town manager after Fortier resigned, said throughout the years of working with Fortier, he would sometimes talk about his financial problems.

But on the stand, Fortier said he did not recall any such conversations.

“I’d have to ask for specifics,” Fortier said.

Fortier’s attorney, Bruce Merrill, also entered into evidence Fortier’s most recent employment contract with the small town, which took effect July 1, 2016. It comprised a $125,000 annual salary, $900 monthly car allowance, 100 percent medical and dental insurance for him, his wife and four children, and a generous retirement contribution by the town, plus accident and liability insurance.

Both sides will have a chance to make their closing arguments Wednesday morning before the jury will begin deliberations.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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