AUGUSTA — An Augusta man pleaded guilty Monday to 18 theft-related charges as part of a plea agreement that places him in a court-overseen program meant to help criminals overcome drug abuse.

Alex J. Murphy, 33, said he has been sober for 320 days. With drugs no longer in his life, he said, criminal activity will also no longer be in his life.

“Being in recovery and living a clean and sober life have been dreams of mine since I started on the road I’ve been on with my addiction,” Murphy said in court Monday via zoom from the office of his lawyer, Andrew Dawson. “Most of these charges were definitely driven by my pursuit of drugs. If I take the drugs out of my life, I believe I’ll take the crime out, too.”

Murphy faced nearly 30 charges from cases originating in Augusta, Bangor and Brewer, several of which were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with state prosecutors.

Several of the remaining 18 charges to which he pleaded guilty were felonies, but those charges will be reduced to misdemeanors if he successfully completes the Augusta-based Co-Occurring Disorders Court program.

Many of the theft charges against him were elevated from misdemeanors to felonies because he has a prior criminal record for thefts.


The program requires participants check in daily with a Maine Pretrial case manager, participate in intensive outpatient treatment, receive individual counseling (as needed), check in with the court system weekly, follow curfews and not use drugs or alcohol.

They must also complete and present a plan for how they will succeed in the future once they have left the program, which can take between 13 months and three years to complete.

“This court is hard. It’s hard work and we hold people accountable. Those are two things you should know going in,” Judge Matthew Tice told Murphy before agreeing to place him in the co-occurring disorders program. “I appreciate your honesty. A bigger part of the equation is stopping the cycle of you going in and out of jail, using (drugs) and not addressing mental health and substance use issues. We’re trying to stop that cycle and help you move forward.”

Murphy pleaded guilty to three felony charges, including aggravated forgery and theft by deception, related to his having used counterfeit $100 bills, which had “for motion picture use only” printed on them, at multiple Augusta businesses, including VIP Tires & Service and Hannaford in April 2020.

Murphy admitted he had tried to use the counterfeit bills to make purchases. He said he wanted to take responsibility, and turned over to Augusta police another 31 bogus $100 bills, which he said he had bought on Amazon.

Murphy also pleaded guilty Monday to other theft charges, including attempting to steal a shopping cart full of items and, in another instance, a $9 knife, from Walmart in Bangor; a suitcase from Marden’s in Brewer; and bicycles from individuals.


He told police the Walmart incident involving the loaded shopping cart was prompted by drug dealers who had given him information on what items they wanted him to steal.

If Murphy complies with the conditions of the Co-Occurring Disorders Court and graduates from the program, the three counts to which has pleaded guilty related to the use of counterfeit bills would be dismissed and replaced with a single charge of lower-level theft.

In the other theft cases, the charges would also be reduced.

If Murphy succeeds in the program, his sentence would be time he has already served in jail, which Dawson said was about nine months before his recent release, although Murphy also served seven months previously related to some of the charges against him.

Murphy is now living in an ENSO Recovery sober house in Augusta, where he said he was recently named head of orientation. He said he wants to become a certified recovery coach and might pursue a career in social work.

“I wanted to participate in the (co-occurring disorders court) as a way of proving to myself and my father and others close to me in my family I can take responsibility for the things I’ve done,” Murphy said. “Also, I really don’t want to go to prison. I want to get my life fixed.”


Murphy said he plans to give a medallion he expects to receive upon reaching one year of sobriety to his mother for her birthday.

If Murphy fails to complete the program, his sentence would be a six years in prison, with all but 30 months suspended, and two years probation. He would thus serve 30 months in prison, but could face the full six years if he does not comply with the terms of his probation.

At least one of the charges to which Murphy has pleaded guilty involved a Class B offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutor Jaqueline Sartoris, an assistant district attorney in Kennebec County, said she believes Murphy can be successful in the court program.

“I’m the prosecutor in court, but I’m also really rooting for your success,” she told Murphy during the  court hearing.

After the court hearing, Dawson said the Co-Occurring Disorders Court and a related Veterans Court “gives individuals a chance to work hard to prove to themselves and the community that they can overcome the issues that have come to overtake their lives, and led them to their involvement in the criminal justice system.”

“It allows people to avoid felony convictions, which stay on their records for the rest of their lives and hinder individual progress,” Dawson said. “By allowing individuals to resolve their charges in these diversionary programs, we as the taxpayers save money in incarceration costs and allow individuals to prove themselves in the community and work on rebuilding trust that has so often been lost through substance abuse issues.”

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