LEWISTON — A Palmyra man claimed to have 21 pounds of uranium and a lithium bomb in the stolen car in which he was parked in Auburn before leading police on a high-speed pursuit to New Hampshire last weekend, prosecutors said.

Aaron Chadbourne sits Friday in Androscoggin County Jail during a hearing on charges stemming from a police pursuit from Auburn to New Hampshire last weekend. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

He faces four charges stemming from the Feb. 20 police pursuit including: eluding an officer, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison; and three misdemeanors, driving to endanger, failing to stop for an officer and operating after suspension.

Police said they responded to a call for a wellness check on a vehicle parked outside a gas station on Washington Avenue in Auburn.

They discovered Aaron K. Chadbourne, 53, in the driver’s seat of a car he told them was stolen, his speech slurred, according to police.

“Police believe that he was under the influence and possibly suffering from some type of mental health crisis,” Auburn Deputy Police Chief Timothy Cougle said.

While officers were attempting to speak with Chadbourne, he fled the parking lot, failing to stop for the officers after being ordered to do so,” Cougle said.


The officers followed Chadbourne onto the Maine Turnpike (southbound), still attempting to stop Chadbourne by signaling him with their lights and sirens, Cougle said.

Other law enforcement agencies were dispatched to assist. The pursuit continued south on the Maine turnpike with Chadbourne’s speed varying up and down, Cougle said, most often remaining at or below the posted speed limit.

Assistant District Attorney Christy Stilphen told a judge in 8th District Court on Friday that Chadbourne had been driving recklessly, swerving at one point, over the median line when he drove off from the stop.

After entering the Maine Turnpike, his speed neared 100 mph at times, she said, and at one point, nearly hit a guardrail.

Chadbourne avoided one spike mat deployed by police, but a second spike mat blew out the tires on the vehicle he was driving, Stilphen said.

“The defendant continued to drive recklessly across the road, even with his tires blown out, and finally stopped at a gas station,” she said.


Chadbourne had traveled into New Hampshire before officers were able to arrest him, she said.

Although he has a minimal criminal history, Stilphen said his conduct in the case was “concerning” because he had fled from a roadside stop and “wasn’t making much sense and an (operating under the influence) investigation wasn’t properly conducted because he drove off.”

Maine police sought to have New Hampshire law enforcement conduct an OUI investigation, but those authorities did not cooperate, she said.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Dolley said Chadbourne was “not without his mental health issues” and suggested bail conditions imposed by the court might include a requirement that he take prescribed medications.

He’s lived in Maine his whole life and has a college degree in web design, but isn’t working, is disabled and collects Social Security, Dolley said.

Judge Jennifer Archer set bail at $5,000 cash or personal recognizance with supervised release. Conditions of release include no operation of a motor vehicle and no possession of alcohol or illegal drugs for which he can be searched and tested upon articulable suspicion.

He must take all prescribed medications and may not leave the state, she said.

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