BANGOR, Maine — An Exeter man was sentenced Tuesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to nine years in prison for being the mastermind behind a smash-and-grab burglary in Corinth more than four years ago and charges from other criminal activity.
Clifford John Sprague, 37, also was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court to three years and five months in federal prison for his role in a 2012 Guilford pharmacy robbery and lying to obtain disability benefits.
The sentences will run concurrently so Sprague will serve about four years in a state prison after completing his federal sentence. The nine months he served awaiting sentencing on the federal charge will be applied to that sentence.
The nearly three years Sprague spent at the Penobscot County Jail while federal officials completed the investigation that led to the Social Security Disability fraud charge will be applied to the state sentence.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson said Monday that Sprague was the “mastermind” behind a June 22, 2012, break-in at the A.E. Robinson store in Corinth, according to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. Sprague and three others backed a stolen pickup through the front doors of the store and stole cigarettes and a lottery ticket dispenser.
The other three people involved have either served or are serving time for their involvement in the crime.
Sprague pleaded no contest in March 2013 to arson, burglary, aggravated criminal mischief and theft for his role in the store break-in, but he negotiated a plea agreement with Almy to postpone his sentencing while awaiting the results of a federal investigation into the Social Security Disability fraud allegations.
Almy recommended that Sprague, who has a long criminal history, spend 12 years in prison for the smash-and-grab robbery.
Defense attorney Hunter Tzovarras of Bangor urged Anderson to sentence Sprague to six years and three months so that his state sentence would end when his federal sentence does. Tzovarras also said that t he longest time to serve Sprague’s co-defendants had been sentenced to was two years.
“The is one of the most outrageous burglaries [to a business] I’ve seen,” the judge said before imposing the nine-year sentence. “I do not believe Mr. Sprague has accepted responsibility for this crime. He has done what is expedient for him. He wants credit for accepting responsibility, but he hasn’t in my opinion.”
Anderson said that Sprague had not made a statement to police when arrested and had most likely lied when he testified against a co-defendant even though he has not been charged with perjury.
Sprague also was sentenced Tuesday for his role in the May 11, 2012, theft of a dump truck, portable fuel pump and two oxygen tanks from Pike Industries in Dover-Foxcroft. Investigators found him by activating the global positioning system on the dump truck.
“When they got to the location where the dump truck was, they found the defendant using a blowtorch to take it apart,” Almy has said.
Sprague pleaded guilty in March 2014 to theft, receiving stolen property and aggravated criminal mischief for his role in that incident, according to Almy’s office in Dover-Foxcroft.
On Tuesday, Sprague pleaded guilty to three counts of assault in connection with an assault May 13, 2013, on Nicholas Sexton, 35, of Warwick, Rhode Island, who was then a fellow inmate at the Penobscot County Jail. Two of the assault charges stemmed from Sprague’s turning on two corrections officers who were injured when they intervened in the assault on Sexton that involved about half a dozen inmates, including Sprague, Almy said Tuesday.
Sexton was awaiting trial with co-defendant Randall Daluz, 38, of Brockton, Massachusetts, in connection with the death of three people in what police called a drug deal gone bad in August 2012.
On May 28, 2014, after a monthlong trial, Daluz was convicted of three counts of murder and one count of arson for killing Nicolle Lugdon, Daniel Borders and Lucas Tuscano and burning the car in which they were killed. Sexton was found guilty on one count each of murder and arson. The jury could not reach a verdict on two of the murder charges lodged against him.
Both men have been imprisoned for life. Sexton is incarcerated at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Daluz is incarcerated at a facility in South Walpole, Massachusetts, as part of a prisoner exchange program.
Sprague faced up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to $50,000 on the most serious charge of arson.