AUGUSTA — A former South China woman pleaded guilty Thursday to arson for setting a fire that destroyed her Lakeview Drive home last year after an argument with her husband about credit card debt.

Rebecca A. Poulin, 65, now of Augusta, was sentenced to an initial 30 days in jail — which she already has served — and the remainder of the five-year prison term was suspended while she spends three years on probation. Poulin pleaded guilty at her arraignment on the arson indictment.

After the hearing, the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Michael Madigan, revealed the fire in South China was the third time that “fire marshals have been called to investigate a fire at her residence.”

Madigan outlined the plea agreement during the hearing at the Capital Judicial Center, telling Judge Paul Mathews that the state’s “primary concern here is psychological counseling and treatment.” Madigan said mental health problems were involved.

Defense attorney Pamela Ames noted that the damage was done to property owned by Poulin and her husband.

Mathews explained to Poulin that she was pleading guilty to a charge that carried a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $50,000 fine and four years of probation.

Madigan also said Poulin admitted having set the South China fire when she was interviewed by investigators in a travel camper that the Poulins owned.

He said the offense on Sept. 18, 2017, came after Poulin’s husband had told her she had to leave after he got a call saying the balance was overdue on a credit card he had been unaware of.

Madigan said Poulin told her husband that if she no longer could stay in their home, neither could he.

Madigan said Poulin indicated she “lit socks on fire using the stove in the kitchen before tossing them into living room and going outside to do some gardening.”

The prosecutor said that by the time firefighters arrived, the house was destroyed

Conditions of probation prohibit Poulin from possession of incendiary devices and from “possession or use of any credit card account.”

A condition that prohibited her from having contact with her husband was lifted at Philip Poulin’s request. He was in court Thursday for the hearing and confirmed to the judge that he wanted the prohibition lifted.

While the prior investigations were not mentioned during the hearing, published records show that firefighters were called to the Poulin home at 230 Lakeview Drive in June 2017 and quickly knocked down a fire that started in the bathroom.

Another published report shows Augusta firefighters and police tending to Rebecca Poulin outside a School Street home in June 2015 after a fire that badly damaged the kitchen where she was living. An Augusta fire official said at the time that the blaze began when a burner on the stove was left on.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 

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