A Boothbay Harbor man whose two-year burglary spree resulted in the largest and oddest search warrant discovery in Boothbay Harbor history pleaded guilty to 58 counts of burglary and theft in Lincoln County Superior Court on Friday, April 10.
Ron Fuller, 64, who burglarized homes and businesses in Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, was sentenced to a total of 20 years with all but 7 years suspended by Lincoln County Superior Court Judge Daniel Billings.
Fuller waived his right to trial; and the sentence had been mutually agreed upon by state prosecutors and Fuller.
This sentence will be served subsequent to Fuller’s five and a 1/2 year sentence for auto theft and federal probation violations.
As a result of federal and state charges, Fuller will spend over 12 years in prison and then will be subject to 6 years of probation.
Prosecuting district attorney Jonathan Liberman recounted the history, evidence and witnesses that the state would have presented for each charge if Fuller had sought a trial.
Liberman described the burglaries, the items taken, as well as the police discoveries and DNA evidence that ultimately led to a search of Fuller’s Crest Avenue home in March 2013 and the 59 charges of burglary, theft and aggravated criminal mischief.
Fuller temporarily eluded police by stealing a 1971 classic convertible automobile and fleeing the state but was ultimately arrested in Missouri in April 2013.
The district attorney and victims estimated that Fuller stole well over $100,000 in jewelry, collectibles and valuables from Midcoast businesses, including Ed’s Stuff in Woolwich, Wiscasset Cottage Antiques and Gold/Smith Gallery in Boothbay Harbor, as well as private residences.
Many of the residences were seasonal homes and were unoccupied at the time of the burglaries, Liberman said. Although Fuller’s takings included high value items, he also stole items of little material worth.
Fuller pleaded guilty to all the charges brought forward by the state except for the 2012 burglary of Gold/Smith Gallery in Boothbay Harbor and a firearm theft in Boothbay, to which he pleaded no contest.
Gold/Smith Gallery has filed a civil suit against Fuller seeking restitution for their significant losses in that burglary (originally estimated at more than $100,000). Billings advised Fuller that by pleading no contest he was, “not admitting facts but agreeing he could be found guilty.”
Billings said several victims had provided victim impact statements for his consideration.
Geneva Kilkenny, daughter of Norma Scopino, who operated Montsweag Flea Market and who died two months after her home was burglarized by Fuller, spoke for her mother and family.
“He took away things that are irreplaceable and have absolutely no material value and had everything to do with our family,” Kilkenny said. Kilkenny described deeds, personal mementos, and collectibles forever lost as a result of Fuller’s actions.
“The financial loss is not as bad as losing all those memories and history of my family,” Kilkenny said through tears. “What makes it even more personal is he knew my mother, and he knew the woman she was and he knew she bent over backwards for him.”
Kilkenny asked that Fuller’s sentence be extended so he would not be released and have an opportunity to harm others.
Fuller also addressed the court and placed blame for his recent and past criminal behavior on his incarceration by the state as a teenager.
“Mentally it did something to me,” he said.
He also addressed Kilkenny, apologizing to her but also dismissing the personal significance of his actions.
“It wasn’t anything personal, none of these crimes were anything personal, they were just crimes of opportunity,” Fuller said. He told Kilkenny that non-valuables like the deed to her family home had been burned or taken to the dump.
“When I’m going through a place, I’m not picking and choosing,” he said. “I’m just dumping stuff into a bag or backpack. Later on, I’d go through it and what I didn’t want I took to the dump.”
In sentencing Fuller, Billings said he was not minimizing what had happened to Fuller as a young man but added, “The fact that you would offer that today as some sort of an explanation for why you have engaged in a long series of thefts 40-50 years after-the-fact is frankly hard to accept.
“By the time you reach the age of 61 or 62, you own your behavior. The reason you are here today, and have a long history here, has to do with you and with your not being willing to accept responsibility for your actions.”
Billings praised the work of local law enforcement officials. “Law enforcement takes a lot of criticism, and some of that is justified, but it is important to note here that without some very good and detailed work by local law enforcement, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Billings also noted the significant impact that Fuller’s crimes had on his victims and the larger community; he said if Fuller were a younger man, he would be facing a much longer sentence.
In addition to the jail and parole sentence, Fuller was ordered to pay $13,675 in restitution to victims, including Scopino’s family.