SKOWHEGAN — A Skowhegan real estate developer and former Skowhegan Planning Board member who ran for a seat on the Board of Selectmen in 2015 and 2017 pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bangor this week to one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Christopher Kruse, 50, faces five to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a possible lifetime of supervised release once he is released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Ruge said Friday.

According to court records, in November 2017, Kruse used the internet to receive several videos depicting child pornography, some depicting children under 12 years old. He added these videos to a collection of child pornography he had kept on his personal computer since 2015, according to Ruge. The collection was discovered Nov. 28, 2017, when law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Kruse’s home.

Kruse moved back to Maine 11 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he and his family were in the hotel business. He grew up in Jackman and lived in Skowhegan during his youth. He was the owner of Bridgeside Market in Norridgewock and owns Olde School Apartments on the site of the former junior high school in Skowhegan, which he originally wanted to turn into a hotel. Bridgeside Market was sold and became Tradewinds Market.

Kruse is married and has two children.

He previously served on the Norridgewock Planning Board and ran for a seat on the Board of Selectmen in that town as well. He pleaded guilty to the charges Tuesday.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and the Bangor and Skowhegan police departments.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Led by U.S. attorneys’ offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood uses federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute people who exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims, according to a U.S. Attorney’s office news release on the case.

Attorney Walter McKee, of Augusta, who is representing Kruse, is out of the office this week and was unavailable for comment.

Ruge said Kruse faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

He said Kruse received child pornography in the period from Nov. 11 to Nov. 28, 2017, and possessed the material in the period from April 15, 2015, to Nov. 28, 2017, while he was a member of the Skowhegan Planning Board.

He was appointed to the board on April 14, 2015.

Kruse is still listed as a Planning Board member on the town’s website, but he tendered his resignation, which the Board of Selectmen accepted on July 10 this year, according to Cynthia Kirk, the Planning Board secretary.

Ruge said Kruse received multiple videos depicting child pornography using the internet, downloading the video files to his laptop computer at his home in Skowhegan from servers for an online storage company located outside Maine.

For the possession charge, prosecutors said Kruse possessed additional videos “each produced with actual minors” outside the state in digital files. It is not known if any of the children were from Maine.

“What was alleged and what he pled guilty to is that the images had been transported in interstate and foreign commerce,” Ruge said by phone Friday. “So, basically what satisfies that federal element is the use of the internet.”

Kruse will be sentenced after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.