News

Man guilty of transporting women for prostitution


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A Boston man has been found guilty in a Maine court of transporting women for prostitution.

Twenty-eight-year-old Fritz Blanchard was convicted on Thursday after a four-day jury trial in Portland.

Officials say that Blanchard and Samuel Gravely drove three Maine women from Portland to Boston with the intention of having them work as prostitutes there. They say that Blanchard taught two of the women how to attract customers on the street.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty's office says that Blanchard could receive as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Blanchard will be sentenced after officials complete a pre-sentence investigation report. Gravely plead guilty in November but has not yet been sentenced.


Woman charged with stealing $750,000 from employer


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A New Hampshire woman charged with stealing $750,000 from her Maine-based employer has appeared in federal court in Portland.

Janis Woods of Conway, New Hampshire, a former bookkeeper at a drilling business in the town of Norway, was in court Wednesday to face a bank fraud charge. She did not enter a plea.

Prosecutors say the 65-year-old Woods between 2009 and 2012 wrote 169 checks from Grover Gundrilling's account to herself by using a stamp of the company's CEO. Prosecutors say some of that money then went to a pizza parlor in North Conway, New Hampshire, owned by her son.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Woods, who was not arrested, was allowed to remain free on $20,000 bond.

Her lawyer refused comment outside of court.


An inmate who failed to show up to work and was on the run has been caught.


PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER) -- An inmate who failed to show up to work and was on the run has been caught.

Preston Cooper is a work release inmate who works for the Ready Seafood Company in Portland and was scheduled to work Friday. When Cooper failed to show up, his employers contacted the Cumberland County Sheriff's office.

Cooper had eluded authorities until 3:28pm on Saturday when Detective Stephen Gorham with the CCSO took him into custody.

Cooper is currently back at the Cumberland County Jail. No word around the circumstances of Cooper's apprehension, or what charges he now faces. We'll continue to update this story as details become available.


Data breach discovered at OTTO's Portland locations


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- OTTO pizza said Friday that a recently discovered data breach at its Portland locations may have exposed the credit card numbers of about 900 customers, and it has taken immediate steps to tighten computer security at all of its restaurants.

Company officials said authorities recently notified OTTO that it suffered a "point-of-sale" attack that allowed computer hackers access to some customers' credit card numbers. The attack began in early May and affected credit card terminals at its 576 Congress Street location, and at its 225 Congress Street restaurant. OTTO's six other restaurants in Maine and Massachusetts and customers of its home delivery service are unaffected.

Car crashes into Bruno's Restaurant


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A car accident Thursday morning sent five people to the hospital and an SUV into the side of a Portland restaurant.

The accident happened around 9 a.m. on Allen Avenue. Police said a Toyota RAV 4 was rear-ended by a larger SUV. Witnesses said a train was crossing the street at the same time and the Toyota RAV 4 driver swerved to avoid the train. The RAV 4 flipped on its side and slammed into the corner of Bruno's Restaurant and Tavern.

Officials said there was one person in the Toyota who had to be extricated and four people in the other vehicle. Medical officials took all five to the hospital. Police said none of the injuries are serious.

Department of Labor Re-examining Drug Testing Laws


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Maine Department of Labor says less than two percent of all Maine businesses do any type of workplace drug testing and wants to know why?

"Do they want to drug test, but they don't because of the statute, or they don't because of other reasons?" asked Julie Rabinowitz, communications director for the Maine Department of Labor.

According to Rabinowitz, of the roughly 47,000 businesses in Maine fewer than 600 conduct drug tests. She says the majority of those that do testing only do them when screening applicants they are interested in hiring.

"We are an outlier in our law in some things and in some areas of the law," she said. "We believe there are some costs built in that may be prohibitive for smaller employers."

Casco Bay Lines cuts ribbon for renovated terminal


PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- People taking a ferry from Portland out to the islands will notice come big changes.

The renovations started last September, and 4500 square feet were added to the space. Since the terminal was built more than 25 years ago, the number of passengers served has more than doubled, with about one million people taking ferries last year. Casco Bay Lines General Manager Hank Berg says the new design will help people see the ferries, and enjoy their time in the terminal.

"It's an open area, it's light, and there's a lot more room," Berg said. "It's really become a destination, not just a transit stop."

This is just phase one of the renovation project. There will be more upgrades over the next two years, paid for by a $2.5 million federal grant.