A Gardiner man who stole a rifle from a home where he was hired to do plumbing work pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Robert Gay, 35, stole the rifle in June 2018 from a home in Scarborough, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank said in a statement.

Frank said that Gay was working in the homeowner’s basement, where he spotted the weapon. Police were able to search Gay’s cellphone and found text conversations indicating that he stole the rifle and sold it to another individual.

Authorities were able to identify the buyer and the rifle was recovered and returned to the homeowner. Gay was prohibited from possessing the rifle because he had two prior felony convictions for theft.

Gay is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced following the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

The case was investigated by the Scarborough and Gardiner police departments as well as the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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