AUBURN — The first of four Lewiston men pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from the desecration of Riverside Cemetery last year when roughly 150 gravestones and monuments were overturned.
The three other men indicted in connection with the Aug. 20 vandalism are expected to follow suit, including two scheduled for pleas in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Thursday.
Billie J. Coburn, 19, of 131 Horton St. was sentenced to two years in prison with all but two days suspended for aggravated criminal mischief, a felony. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of interference with a cemetery or burial ground and was sentenced to two days in jail to be served at the same time as his other sentence.
A judge also sentenced him to two years of probation, during which he is ordered to serve 100 hours of community service. He also must complete counseling and treatment for substance abuse and acquire a GED. He cannot have contact with the other defendants during his probation, the judge said.
Two other charges, desecration and defacement, and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors, were dismissed.
Coburn's case was continued to March 3, giving time for lawyers to determine how much the defendants should pay in restitution.
Total damage was estimated at the time at more than $50,000.
Jesse L. Macia, 18, of 125 Pierce St. and John W. Manchester, 21, of 85 Whipple St. are expected to plead guilty Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court to related charges.
Shane Michael Haskell, 20, of 139 Park St., whose case was continued to April, was seeking to be admitted to drug court, according to a court clerk.
A public cleanup effort at the cemetery included volunteers from the Lewiston Maineiacs hockey team who were able to right toppled monuments that otherwise would have required machinery.
Coburn publicly apologized shortly after he was arrested for his role in the destruction.
"What I did was wrong and I regret every second of it," he wrote in a letter delivered to the Sun Journal. "I would not have been a part of this if I had a sober mind at the time, but I know there's no time for excuses."
Coburn offered to help clean up the cemetery, but because of conditions of his release from jail, he was not allowed to go on the premises.