AUBURN — A Lewiston couple who were victims of a counterfeit scam will spend time behind bars for threatening the man who passed them the bogus money.
Dennis Moore, 35, and Shunte Jones, 33, were sentenced Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court for using a gun to force a man into a vehicle and driving him around the city in an effort to recover their $100.
Moore had pleaded to two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, each count punishable by up to five years in prison. He was sentenced to four years in prison with all but nine months suspended followed by two years of probation. His sentence was stayed until Friday morning so he could explain to his young children why he would be leaving for the Androscoggin County Jail.
Jones was sentenced on a single charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon to four years in prison with all but nine months and a day suspended, plus two years of probation. Her sentence was stayed until late March, when Moore is expected to be released to take over parental control.
The charges stem from an incident the night of Dec. 3, 2011, when Ashley Crocker, 27, a friend, was visiting the couple at their Strawberry Avenue home with her child, a prosecutor said. A friend of Crocker's, Corey Emmett, 31, sent her a text message asking if he could visit.
After Emmett arrived, he received a text message from a friend asking whether he could change a $100 bill. Moore and Jones said they could oblige. Emmett's friend arrived outside their home. Emmett left with Jones' and Moore's five $20 bills and came back with a $100 bill. It soon became clear that the $100 bill was counterfeit. Jones said she needed that money to buy diapers and food.
From that point on, prosecutors and the defense say events quickly got out of control.
Jones “just simply lost it,” Justice MaryGay Kennedy said.
At one point she struck Emmett with the handgun with which she had threatened him. At another point, Moore and Jones were driving Emmett around the city seeking the man to whom Emmett had given the five $20 bills in exchange for the man's fake $100 bill.
“It was incredibly frightening to everyone who was there,” Kennedy said, including Crocker, who looked on during sentencing in the courtroom.
Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson said Emmett believed he was going to die if he failed to return the couple's money. Crocker, who believed she might have been killed during the argument, has had trouble sleeping, has experienced nightmares and had to seek treatment for the trauma of the events.
Kennedy said the couple was “remarkably lucky” that the incident didn't result in serious injury.
Moore apologized for his actions.
“I 'm not a savage or a monster,” he said.
Jones, who had no criminal record, told the judge she took full responsibility for the events that night.
“I was angry,” she said. The couple should have called police instead of taking matters into their own hands, she said.
“I learned from our mistakes to never, ever do this again,” she said.
Crocker had called her mother who called police.