Students escape criminal charges in Maine theft case

MAINE — The district attorney for Cumberland Countyopted not to file criminal charges against the three Universityof Southern Maine students charged with taking nearly 1,000 copiesof the student newspaper.

Anthony Pergola, Jonathan McCorkill and Cyrus Dulac were arrestedfor stealing copies of the Oct. 29 issue of The Free Press.Pergola, however, said they had planned on paying for the copies.The Free Press has a stated policy that the first copy isfree and additional copies may be purchased at their office forfive cents each.

The newspaper had not received any money for the additionalcopies from Pergola or the others at the time police caught themwith the papers, said Steve Peoples, executive editor of TheFree Press. A $50 check was presented to Peoples later, bya forth party, Sara Poulin.

"The understanding was the $50 would be used to print1,000 extra copies for [Poulin]," Peoples said. "WhatI didn’t know was the money was intended to pay for the copiesthat had already been removed from the stands."

The Oct. 29 issue contained an article about recent sanctionsimposed on the sorority Sigma Iota Sigma by the university. Poulin,president of Sigma Iota Sigma, had asked Pergola, McCorkill andDulac to pick up and purchase the copies for her, according toDistrict Attorney Stephanie Anderson.

"We are required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt thatthe defendants had no intention to pay for the copies of TheFree Press in their possession, and given the fact that Pergolastated he wanted to pay for them, that he attempted to pay forthem and that Sara Poulin attempted to pay for them renders anyprosecution for theft under these facts unethical and impossible,"Anderson said in a statement.

Even though the district attorney is not filing charges theuniversity is still pursuing an internal investigation into theactivities of Pergola, McCorkill and Dulac. The three have beenrecommended to the university’s student conduct council, and atrial is pending.

Campus police are still investigating an earlier incident where1,000 copies of the Oct. 22 issue of The Free Press wherestolen. No one has been implicated, but Police Chief Lisa Beechersaid she "wouldn’t be surprised" if the incident wasconnected to the Oct. 29 case.

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