Abigail W. Adams and J.W. Oliver
A Jefferson woman pleaded guilty to felony forgery and theft charges at the Lincoln County Courthouse on Monday, Sept. 19.
Justine A. Blackler, 31, along with her husband and co-defendant, Jason T. Blackler, 40, if he is convicted, must pay $42,205.68 in restitution to the victims of the theft.
A Lincoln County grand jury indicted both Blacklers on July 12 on one count each of class B forgery and class B theft by unauthorized taking.
The state dismissed both charges against Justine Blackler and she instead pleaded guilty to lesser charges of class C forgery and class C theft by unauthorized taking as part of an agreement known as a deferred disposition.
The agreement delays sentencing for two years, during which she must follow certain conditions. The agreement prohibits contact with Jason Blackler except for indirect contact through attorneys for the purpose of selling their house, prohibits her possession or use of illegal drugs, and subjects her to random searches and tests to ensure compliance. She must continue counseling for substance abuse and “testify truthfully” if the state calls her as a witness in any case. Finally, she must enter a contract with Maine Pretrial Services for her supervision during the term of the agreement.
If she follows the conditions, the state would dismiss the felony charges and she would instead plead guilty to class D forgery and class D theft by unauthorized taking, both misdemeanors. She would avoid jail time and pay $1,000 in fines.
If she does not follow the conditions of the agreement, she could face up to the maximum penalty for a class C crime: five years in prison.
She will return to the Lincoln County Courthouse for a hearing to determine the final outcome of the case at 1 p.m., Sept. 24, 2018. In the meantime, she is free on personal-recognizance bail, which means her promise to appear.
The Blacklers allegedly stole $42,205.68 from relatives from 2013-2016, according to an affidavit by Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers. The couple allegedly forged a relative’s signature on checks and cashed the checks to fund their drug use.
Assistant District Attorney Katie Dakers is the prosecutor for the state. Dakers outlined the reasons for the agreement during the hearing Sept. 19.
According to Dakers, Justine Blackler does not have a criminal record. After her arrest, she spent 28 days in an inpatient treatment facility for substance abuse, then completed intensive outpatient treatment. She continues to undergo counseling and did not have any issues while free on bail.
The victims did not want the state to prosecute Justine Blackler and did not cooperate with the prosecution, Dakers said.
Waldoboro attorney Philip Cohen represented Justine Blackler. Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings presided.
Jason Blackler is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 26, but Dakers expects the court to reschedule the hearing while he attends an inpatient treatment program for substance abuse.
Dakers said the state has not reached an agreement with Jason Blackler.
Jason Blackler is on probation for a 2015 conviction of class D theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, a misdemeanor, in a case involving the theft of inspection stickers, according to court documents and the Maine Department of Corrections.
In the 2015 case, Jason Blackler was sentenced to 364 days in custody with all but seven days suspended, plus a year of probation, according to the Department of Corrections.