The owner of Harvest Hill Farm, where a haunted hayride in October killed a teenager and injured dozens of other passengers, said Wednesday he believed insurance is expected to handle all legal affairs stemming from the incident.

Peter Bolduc Jr. said he hadn’t been made aware of a summons to appear in court for Harvest Hill Farm, which has been charged with manslaughter in addition to two other felonies and a misdemeanor in the October incident.

Bolduc himself was not indicted on any criminal charges by an Androscoggin County grand jury earlier this month. A driver and a mechanic at the farm were charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct.

An Androscoggin County court clerk said this week a summons was sent to Harvest Hill Farm at 125 Pigeon Hill Road in Mechanic Falls. The summons provided notification to the defendant to appear in court on July 30 to answer charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct.

Lawyers who handle criminal charges against businesses said typically the registered agent for the corporation or a corporate officer would appear in court to enter a plea to criminal charges at arraignment.

Shawn Bell, who was listed in state incorporation documents for Bolduc’s companies, has since resigned that position. The president of a corporation or owner also can appear in court, lawyers said.


“If I’m required to be there, I definitely will be there,” Bolduc said Wednesday.

Linda Mason, chief clerk at Androscoggin County Superior Court, said she didn’t remember a case in the past 20 years of a corporation facing felony charges.

While rare in Maine, corporations have been charged criminally from time to time, lawyers said. The U.S. Supreme Court established that corporations are legal people and, therefore, can be held criminally liable.

Michael Whipple, who represented Bolduc on possible criminal charges while the Androscoggin County grand jury was hearing evidence about the October incident, said he has represented companies on criminal charges, generally related to trucking issues, such as log book violations.

As of Tuesday, Whipple said he was not representing Harvest Hill Farm on criminal charges.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office cited two manslaughter cases against corporations filed in this state: one in York County in 1991, the other in Cumberland County in 1993.


Jodi Nofsinger, a lawyer at Berman & Simmons law firm in Lewiston, said a colleague at her firm was involved in the 1991 case: State v. Moores Neron Inc. A worker on a construction project on a bridge spanning the Piscataqua River had died. The construction company was acquitted of a manslaughter charge at trial, she said.

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said her office may bring criminal charges against one or two companies a year, usually a trucking or rafting company.

Despite Harvest Hill Farm’s recent filing for bankruptcy, John Pelletier, executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, said the corporation isn’t eligible for a court-appointed attorney because it doesn’t face possible jail time.

According to Maine law, every organization convicted of a crime may be sentenced a fine, possibly with probation. A judge could order the convicted organization to publicize its conviction.

The maximum fine allowed for conviction on a charge of manslaughter, a Class A crime, is $100,000.

Before a sentence is imposed, a judge may direct the district attorney to “institute supplementary proceedings” in the case to “determine, collect and distribute damages to persons in the class which the statute was designed to protect who suffered injuries” arising from the crime if the judge were to find that a collection of small claims or other circumstances would make restitution by individual lawsuits impractical.


None of the nearly two dozen people injured in the Oct. 11 hayride incident has filed a complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court, according to a court clerk. Nofsinger, who serves as an attorney for the family of Cassidy Charette, a 17-year-old girl from Oakland who was killed during that hayride, said the family is expected to file a claim before the end of the year.

Bolduc said he was told he had been and is now “adequately insured” at his farm operations.

Nofsinger said she’s been made aware that the farm has several policies with two insurance companies. One of the companies has a $1 million policy on the Jeep that was used to tow a flatbed trailer on which passengers on a haunted hayride were riding. The Jeep’s brakes apparently failed, sending the rig careening down a steep path through the woods at the farm. The rig jackknifed, spilling passengers into the woods.

Nofsinger said she was told that coverage among all of the policies in effect at the time of the incident total somewhere between $7 million and $11 million.

Asked about the criminal charges against Harvest Hill, Bolduc said, “I’m not sure there’s anything I can say that would be helpful in any way to move it along or to eliminate or reduce the amount of hurt that everybody’s already been through. I don’t know what I could possibly say that would change anything that’s already happened.”

Bolduc is facing foreclosure on his farm as well as his home in Poland. But he said Wednesday he plans to press on with his farm operations, including Pumpkin Land, a fall attraction at the Mechanic Falls farm. The Gauntlet, the farm’s haunted hayride attraction, has been suspended indefinitely, he said.


“I think there’s a lot of folks who wonder whether or not we’re going to continue to be in business or if this is going to be the end of us,” Bolduc said. “Our intention is to continue to battle our way through this awful tragedy and continue on. It’s part of the DNA of how I was raised. We don’t lay down and we don’t give up.”

The safety record for Pumpkin Land is “excellent,” Bolduc said.

“This has been an awful tragedy on many levels and with the help and support of the community, we’ll work through this,” he said.

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