Matthew R. Theriault, 25, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and making false statements to a government agency. He faces up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for the two offenses.

Theriault appeared in court dressed in a bright orange jail suit; he entered and left the courtroom in handcuffs.

Judge D. Brock Hornby accepted two of the 13 counts of which Theriault was indicted by a federal grand jury. He is expected to be sentenced in two to three months, once a presentencing report is complete.

At that time, prosecutors plan to drop the remaining 11 counts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff said Tuesday.

Theriault pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with an e-mail message he sent in 2006 to the Ossining, N.Y., purchaser of a Kubota model BX24 tractor. Theriault knew the tractor was stolen at the time. He doctored the bill of sale “in an effort to create a false paper trail” for the stolen tractor, Wolff’s office said in a written statement.

Prosecutors said Theriault sold a total of three stolen tractors on eBay.

Theriault also pleaded guilty Tuesday to making false statements to a government agency in connection with an interview in 2007 with an FBI special agent. In response to questions posed by the agent, Theriault claimed that he had bought several tractors and trailers from a Steve Gomez in Charlton, Mass. In fact, Theriault hadn’t bought the tractors from Gomez, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors outlined their evidence against Theriault for the judge. Hornby asked Theriault whether the allegations in the two indictments were true. Theriault answered they were and changed his pleas from “not guilty” to “guilty.”

“Are you pleading guilty to counts five and 13 because you actually committed those two crimes?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Theriault said. He also said he believed a jury could have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on both counts, given the strength of the government’s evidence.

Theriault faces federal imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on the wire fraud charge.

On the charge of making false statements, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Regardless of the sentencing agreement reached by the prosecutor and defendant on the two counts, Hornby has the leeway to exceed that sentence or make it less.

Theriault gave up his right to appeal his conviction.

The judge also could impose up to three years of supervised release in addition to prison time and fines on each of the two counts. If he were to violate the terms of his release, he would face up to two additional years on each count. Theriault also could be told to pay restitution, Hornby said.

Several unrelated charges lodged against Theriault in Androscoggin County Superior Court were recently dropped by the district attorney there in recognition of the federal charges.

Hornby asked whether anyone in the courtroom wanted to speak to the judge as a victim in either of the crimes.

No one spoke.

Theriault will stay in federal custody until his sentencing. His bail was revoked last year when a judge believed there was probable cause to believe he had violated his federal bail conditions after he was cited by Lewiston police on a charge of criminal mischief in connection with covering a car with a brown substance that smelled like feces.


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