AUGUSTA — A former Gardiner man once convicted of using his metal crutches to attack a panhandler now is accused of threatening to slice a former Army friend with a box cutter in Waterville.

Witnesses told police the threat followed a day of drinking by Cletus T. Jernigan Jr., 58, of Waterville.

Jernigan has been held in the Kennebec County jail in Augusta since his arrest Jan. 4, 2018, in Waterville on charges of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and assault, both of which name Kurt Brugman, 56, as the victim.

Jernigan’s attorney, Dennis Jones, said Jernigan was unable to post the $500 cash bail. Another condition required Jernigan to be supervised by Maine Pretrial Services.

On Monday, a judge signed off on a plan recommended jointly by Jones and the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Coleman, that puts Jernigan into an inpatient rehabilitation program at the Starlight Military Program in North Stonington, Connecticut. It offers adult residential detoxification programs, among other treatment.

Jones said the suggestion came through Maine Pretrial Services, and that “it is a rather lengthy program.”


Judge Tom Nale signed off on it after reading aloud from a description of the program that says it is “dedicated to active-duty military members and veterans whose lives have changed and become unmanageable due to significant substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health issues.”

Coleman told him, “I believe this is an excellent program.”

Jernigan told the judge that he had agreed to go to the program.

A memo from Jared McGuire, case manager with Maine Pretrial Services, says Jernigan is a disabled veteran and that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs staff members “are familiar with him and his circumstances.

He said the two agencies agree that “bailing Mr. Jernigan to his home will likely result in recidivism, and that treatment in a more supervised setting, in the form of a bed-to-bed transfer is warranted.”

Coleman also told Jones that they should discuss proposing changes in bail conditions if Jernigan “is doing well and nearing the end of the program.”


Police were sent to Jernigan’s apartment on Silver Place in Waterville at 11:11 p.m. Jan. 4 in response to a report of a man threatening another man with a knife.

An affidavit filed in court by Waterville police Officer Robert Bouley says no knife was found when Jernigan was searched but that a box cutter was seized from an open desk.

Police interviewed two other men, including Brugman, who said he arrived at Jernigan’s the previous night after traveling from Arkansas and planned to stay for several weeks. He said the two men knew each other from serving in the Army together.

Brugman told police that Jernigan “started drinking and became highly intoxicated,” and that a second man came over and all three were talking at the kitchen table, Bouley wrote.

The men said Jernigan “kept saying he was a soldier and he hated” al-Qaida and “was going to kill” the terrorist organization.

Then, while Brugman was on the phone in another room, Brugman told police, “Cletus came up to him upset and yelling at him that he was a faggot.”


Brugman said that when he tried to leave, Jernigan pushed him down at the front door, and the other man intervened to try to stop Jernigan. At that point, Brugman said, Jernigan pulled a box cutter from his pants pocket and threatened to cut both men.

Brugman told police he wanted to press charges.

After Jernigan was processed at the Waterville Police Department, he was taken to the Emergency Department at MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Center for Health in Waterville for treatment of a cut on his elbow and his foot, Bouley noted, and then taken to the jail in Augusta.

Jernigan served an initial 23 days in jail after pleading guilty to assault in the April 2015 attack on a panhandler in Gardiner, and the remainder of the 180-day sentence was suspended while Jernigan spent a year on supervised release.

At the time, Jernigan used crutches to walk. No crutches were visible when Jernigan appeared by video from the jail for the bail review hearing on Monday.

Jernigan had maintained the panhandler was scamming the public. Police said Jernigan was intoxicated at the time of that offense.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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