AUGUSTA — A Gardiner man who pleaded guilty to what a prosecutor said was his eighth operating under the influence charge, as well as charges of eluding an officer and operating after suspension, was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday.

Robert E. Purington III

At the time of the incident which resulted in the latest charges Robert E. Purington III, 47, had already been sentenced for a previous operating under the influence and eluding an officer conviction. But, his imprisonment on those two charges related to a separate, Dec. 20, 2018, incident had been delayed, according to prosecutor Evan Fisher, an assistant district attorney.

With that imprisonment delayed, on Aug. 10 in Gardiner, a man later identified as Purington, was spotted by Gardiner police Officer Dan Ross riding an all-terrain vehicle on a public way in Gardiner, on the wrong side of the road. Ross turned on his cruiser’s lights and siren and followed the ATV rider, who, Fisher said, sped up, traveling 45-miles-per-hour in a residential area, then left the roadway, going through a yard and jumping over a hill. At that point the officer discontinued his pursuit due to safety concerns.

Police monitored exits to the trails on which the rider was believed to have escaped and later spotted Purington parking the ATV and walking away from it toward a home. Fisher said police ordered him to stop but he kept walking, until an officer pulled his gun and ordered him to stop walking away. Police spotted an alcoholic beverage, which Fisher said was still cold, on the ATV and said Purington’s speech was slurred. He refused to be tested for the presence of alcohol.

He was charged with eluding an officer, failure to stop, operating under the influence and operating after suspension. The failure to stop charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement, while Purington pleaded guilty to the other three charges Tuesday morning at the Capital Judicial Center.

He was sentenced to the full three years in prison of his original sentence for the previous OUI and eluding an officer charges, and five years, with all but two years suspended, on the more recent eluding an officer charge, to be served consecutively, with the two consecutive sentences totaling five years of prison time.

He was also sentenced to two years probation after his release, and his license was suspended for six years.

The OUI charge was a Class C felony offense, due to his prior OUI charges, which Fisher said totaled eight during Purington’s lifetime, including one in Kennebec County and one in Sagadahoc County in 2012.

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