A Waterville man who led police on a drug-fueled chase through several area towns while driving a stolen fuel truck before crashing in Winthrop was sentenced to more than five years in prison Wednesday.

Paul N. Hatch III, 37, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, eluding an officer, aggravated criminal mischief, and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, receiving a total sentence of 63 months in prison in connection with the Sept. 19, 2023, incident.

Hatch was driving a fuel truck carrying 1,100 gallons of heating oil and kerosene he’d taken from a garage at Winthrop Fuel Co. and had been pursued by police through three counties before he struck another vehicle and rolled the fuel truck over onto its side on Route 133 in Winthrop. He was arrested after a brief foot chase.

“He ran from officers, yelling, ‘You’ll never catch me,'” Michael Madigan, an assistant district attorney, said at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. “He was mistaken.”

Hatch told police he had used methamphetamine 30 minutes earlier, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Winthrop police Detective Savannah Brennan. Later, Hatch said he had not slept in eight days and had used the stimulant consistently during that period. He also told authorities there were several packages of meth in the truck.

Madigan said police located a total of 23 grams of methamphetamine both in the truck and later in a bag spotted on the floor at the hospital where Hatch had been taken following the crash. Hatch acknowledged to police it was his.


Winthrop police received a report at 8:25 a.m. Sept. 19, 2023, that employees of Winthrop Fuel Co. arrived at the company’s garage on Peck Farm Road and found the bay door open and truck gone. Police issued an alert for authorities to be on the lookout for the truck.

Later that morning, Kenneth Tabor, an investigator with the Office of State Fire Marshal, spotted the vehicle in Gray. He followed the truck through multiple towns into Auburn, observing it  swerve into oncoming traffic and drive through red lights without stopping at intersections, including some that were blocked by other officers.

Tabor lost sight of the truck in Auburn. After retrieving a small empty vodka bottle and a bottle of fuel stabilizer he said he had seen the driver of the truck throw out the window, he headed toward Winthrop to deliver that apparent evidence to Brennan. On the way, he spotted the truck again, on U.S. Route 202 in Monmouth.

Monmouth and Winthrop police picked up the pursuit of Hatch, using their lights, sirens and loudspeakers, with speeds through residential areas sometimes exceeding 75 mph.

At one point, Madigan said, Hatch nearly forced one officer off the road on U.S. Route 202. He drove around spike matts police had put out to try to stop the truck, driving onto Main Street in Winthrop, then onto Highland Avenue and past Winthrop Elementary School. Eventually he turned back onto Route 202, where he struck a pickup truck and rolled the fuel truck over, ending the chase.

No fuel spilled from the truck.


While being taken to the hospital, and then jail, Hatch twice managed to slip his hands — which had been cuffed behind his back — to the front of his body and damaged Winthrop and  Augusta police cruisers by pulling apart a section of the vehicles’ dividers and kicking at windows.

Charges of theft by unauthorized taking, criminal operating under the influence, aggravated criminal mischief and refusing to submit to arrest were dismissed in a plea agreement.

He was sentenced to 42 months for stealing the truck and fleeing from police. He will serve an additional 21 months, to be served consecutively, for violating his probation from an earlier felony conviction, for a total of 63 months in prison. He will receive credit for the time he’s already spent in jail.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy said Hatch’s mental health was evaluated as part of court proceedings, but his lawyer, William Baghdoyan, said there were no concerns about his competency to proceed in the case.

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