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Judge orders man who plowed Pelletier Avenue to serve 10 days in jail

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A judge ordered a Madawaska man to serve 10 days in jail on June 5 after he was found guilty of plowing over a portion of gravel road in a dispute with Frenchville town officials. 

Bruce Ouellette, 45, was sentenced to one year in prison with all but 10 days suspended in Aroostook County Superior Court in Caribou after he was found guilty on a charge of aggravated criminal mischief. He also was sentenced to serve one year of probation after he gets out of jail. He was acquitted on charges of obstructing criminal administration and reckless conduct, according to a court clerk.

The jury handed down a verdict in the case on April 24 following a two day trial and Ouellette had been free on bail pending sentencing.

Bruce Ouellette addresses selectmen during a Frenchville special town meeting June 12, 2017. (Courtesy of Liz Theriault)

Police charged Ouellette after they say he used farm equipment to plow up a portion of Pelletier Avenue in Frenchville on Oct. 31, 2016.

The roughly one-mile long unpaved section of Pelletier Avenue had been at the center of controversy for more than a year regarding whether it is a private or public road.

Ouellette and other family members, including his brother Calvin Ouellette, have said that part of the road is located on their farm property. The town, meanwhile, has been maintaining the road, including plowing it in the winter, as though it were a public way for 20 years.

Just three families live on the section in question, although other area residents also use the road to travel between Frenchville and Madawaska. According to the Maine Department of Transportation, daily traffic averages out to about 200 vehicles per day over the year.

Bruce Ouellette plowed over part of the road as the town was preparing to make improvements, including paving the road.

According to court records, an Aroostook County grand jury indicted Ouellette in February 2017 on the charge of aggravated criminal mischief for allegedly “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” damaging a portion of the town road. The grand jurors also indicted him on the reckless conduct charge because he allegedly “created a substantial risk of serious bodily injury” to a passerby “with the use of a dangerous weapon, a steel pin.” The document does not specify what Ouellette did with it.

In addition, the grand jury charged him with obstructing government administration for interfering “by force, violence, or intimidation or by a physical act” with public officials carrying out their official functions.

Ouellette pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in April 2017 and requested a jury trial.

Bruce Ouellette’s attorney, Toby Jandreau of Fort Kent, did not respond to a request for comment.

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