AUGUSTA — A 41-year-old former Augusta man was ordered Thursday to serve seven years behind bars for burglarizing more than a dozen small businesses in early spring 2015 in the Augusta area, some of them twice.

Michael J. Gagne, 41, more recently of Lyman, was sentenced Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center. He had pleaded guilty to the offenses in November 2017 and the sentencing hearing was continued because of a pending robbery charge in York County.

However, Gagne’s attorney, Lisa Whittier, told Justice Michaela Murphy that she learned from Gagne’s lawyer there that “new evidence has come in that it was not Mr. Gagne.”

Ronda Snyder, owner of Twins Country Store in Augusta, addressed the judge Thursday, asking her to impose more than the seven years recommended by the prosecutor.

“We’re a small family-run business who isn’t like a big Irving that can take a big hit like this,” Snyder said. She said the impact extended beyond the cash taken and included the damage to the property, the loss of about $1,000 worth of food, the ensuing fear among employees, and insurance ramifications. In her written statement, Snyder said that Gagne “has no respect for the law, for other people’s property, or for the small business owners’ hard work to make a business successful.”

Laura Benedict, owner of the Red Barn in Augusta, which also was burglarized, submitted a victim impact statement to the judge but did not attend the sentencing hearing.

Gagne broke into Christy’s Country Store in Belgrade twice during that spree, once in March and once in April.

Gagne, who was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, told the judge that his mental health improved after he was committed to state custody and treated at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor.

“It was the first time I had any treatment for my schizophrenia and PTSD, he said. “Since then I’ve become more stable than I ever have.”

He also said he had had no opiates since April 28, 2015, when he was arrested on central Maine burglary charges.

After apologizing for his actions, he said, “It’s been a tough battle for me with addiction and mental health for a good portion of my life,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can during this time to make sure things like this never happen again. It’s never my intention to harm people.”

Gagne recently served a two-year probation revocation because of his arrest on the central Maine burglaries and is serving a three-year probation revocation on York County convictions.

Those sentences as well as the pending robbery charge made for some complicated negotiations and sentence calculations, delaying the hearing for several hours.

Murphy said she was trying to craft a sentence that would keep Gagne at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, where he is involved in a number of programs and receiving medication for his mental illness.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh had recommended the seven-year term, saying it was essentially six months for each burglary. He also listed a criminal history for Gagne that started in the 1990s.

Whittier suggested a four-year sentence to be concurrent to York County cases.

In a sentencing memorandum submitted prior to the hearing, Whittier wrote, “Mr. Gagne is very sorry for breaking in to Twins Store, but he does not take responsibility for the damage that is claimed, nor does the evidence that was provided to counsel support a claim that he caused the damage. Mr. Gagne’s modus operandi for the burglaries that he committed is to get in and out as quickly as possible. He did not ‘trash’ any of the businesses that he took responsibility for breaking into.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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