Police talk with witnesses at the spot where a stolen truck was was abandoned near the IGA in Trenton Sunday afternoon. The driver, a Machias man suspected of arson, fled into the woods. He was arrested Sunday evening at a nearby gas station.

Chase leads to arrest of Machias man suspected of arson



ELLSWORTH — A Machias man wanted for allegedly setting fire to an Indian Township food pantry and tying up a Washington County woman and stealing her truck was arrested Sunday following a police chase.

The pursuit started in Ellsworth and ended in Trenton with the man’s arrest, police said.

James Berube

Maine State Police Cpl. Dan Ryan and Fire Marshal’s Office Sgt. Joel Davis arrested James Berube, 21, at gunpoint Sunday evening at Dysart’s Moose Crossing store in Trenton, according to Maine State Police spokesman Steve McCausland.

Hancock County Sheriff’s Lt. Corey Bagley said Berube was arrested on the following charges: aggravated assault, burglary, arson, refusing to submit to arrest or detention, operating without a license, speeding, driving to endanger and aggravated driving to endanger.

Berube also was charged with two counts each of failure to stop for an officer and eluding an officer.

He is being held at the Hancock County Jail on $75,000 cash or $50,000 surety bail. He was still incarcerated Tuesday afternoon.

The incident started around 3 a.m. Sunday when Berube allegedly set fire to the food pantry, which was “pretty much destroyed,” according to Davis.

Davis said the burglary charge is in connection with the food pantry fire.

McCausland said Berube is suspected to have started a fire in Princeton as well. Three buildings in total were damaged, including the food pantry building.

Fire marshals said Berube also broke into a home in Baileyville, tied up the woman who owns the home and stole her pickup truck.

Fire Marshal’s Office investigators and the Baileyville Police Department had been looking for Berube when Ellsworth police and Deputy Dakota Dupuis spotted Berube driving the stolen pickup truck in Ellsworth Sunday afternoon.

“The officers began to pursue the stolen truck in the city of Ellsworth and continued into the town of Trenton, where [Berube] fled the vehicle into the woods,” Bagley said.

A number of agencies were involved in the pursuit and arrest in addition to the Sheriff’s Office and Ellsworth police.

The agencies include the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert police departments, the Maine Marine Patrol, the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Forest Service.

Judge Michael Roberts set Berube’s bail at $75,000 cash or $50,000 surety in the Washington County case — the charges of arson, burglary and aggravated assault — during a bail hearing Monday afternoon in Hancock County Unified Court.

Roberts set bail for Berube’s Hancock County case, which includes six counts, at $10,000 cash or $10,000 surety.

District Attorney Matt Foster had asked that Berube be held on $50,000 cash bail for the Washington County case, citing the “severity of the charges.”

However, Ellsworth attorney Jacob Ferm, who was serving as lawyer of the day, asked that a surety bail be offered.

Ferm said he spoke with the defendant’s mother, who was willing to put up property.

Berube asked the judge if the two cases could be joined and if he could be sent to the Washington County Jail in Machias.

“I work with a lawyer down there,” Berube said.

Berube said he has “mental health issues,” but was quickly silenced by Roberts.

“Let your attorney speak for you; I don’t want you to incriminate yourself,” the judge said.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at josborn@ellsworthamerican.com or call 667-2576.

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