Broken signs and boards inside the Swallowtail Farm farmstand Feb. 26. The Whitefield farmstand was destroyed with a front-end loader, according to police. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

WHITEFIELD — Police arrested the owner of a front-end loader suspected of driving into and smashing up a Whitefield farmstand last week, charging Wayne Mullens, 47, with a felony count of aggravated criminal mischief.

Wayne Mullens

Mullens was arrested Thursday night in Gardiner on a warrant for his arrest issued by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the farmstand’s destruction.

Just after midnight Feb. 25 Lauren and Sean Pignatello, owners of the farmstand and creamery, reported to police they were woken by smashing sounds and looked outside their house to see a yellow tractor-like vehicle with a bucket on it driving away down Main Street in the Coopers Mills area of Whitefield.

The vehicle left their farmstand with its front door ripped open and knocked off its base. Neighbors said they saw the bucket loader smash into the small structure multiple times.

Deputies investigated, interviewing multiple witnesses and canvassing the neighborhood. Lt. Brendan Kane, in a news release, said the investigation led police to accuse Mullens, who he said lives about a half-mile away from the stand. He also owns the front-end loader suspected as being used in the crime.

Police obtained an arrest warrant and he was arrested Thursday night in Gardiner, with assistance from Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken to Two Bridges Jail in Wiscasset.

Lauren Pignatello said the family, which includes seven children, plans to rebuild their farmstand. A GoFundMe page, set up by a woman from southern Maine who wanted to help them rebuild, had raised $28,180 as of late Friday afternoon, surpassing the fundraising goal of $15,000.

Police said damage to the farmstand was estimated to be $7,500.

Pignatello said the farmstand is a major part of her family’s livelihood. That is where they sell vegetables, dairy products, award-winning cheese, herbal products, eggs, and, occasionally, meats, baked goods, plants and flowers.

The farm’s Facebook page has seen many offers of help — including money, labor, lumber, and emotional support and encouragement to build a bigger, better, more beautiful farmstand in the destroyed one’s place.

The farmstand usually operates on an honor system, meaning it is unstaffed and people purchasing items are trusted to pay for them. Pignatello said no one ever steals from the farm.

Kane said Mullens’ motive in the incident is, so far, unclear, and it is also so far unknown whether he may have been intoxicated at the time.

Police still ask anyone who may have seen the event to contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 207-882-7332.

Mullens’ initial court appearance is scheduled for March 25 in Wiscasset Unified Court.

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