John Hiatt pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft and harassment charges. In exchange for his plea, felony charge of possession of child pornography was dismissed, Dec. 13, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

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Penobscot County Treasurer John Hiatt pleaded no contest Tuesday to misdemeanor theft and harassment charges and was sentenced to 10 days in jail and ordered to pay a $750 fine.

The plea resolves charges dating back to May 2021, when Hiatt — who then also served on the Bangor School Committee — was accused of harassing and stalking a local woman. He was then charged with possession of child pornography less than three months later in August 2021.

No contest pleas result in convictions.

The resolution of Hiatt’s case stemmed from a plea agreement with District Attorney-elect R. Christopher Almy under which the felony charge of possession of child pornography was dismissed.

Hiatt, 40 of Bangor, will not serve his sentence at the Penobscot County Jail but instead will go to an alternative sentencing program run by Androscoggin County at Lewiston Middle School on Feb. 17.

Hiatt was charged in May 2021 with stalking and harassment. The following August, he was arrested again and charged with possession of child pornography. 

Hiatt resigned from the school committee following his August arrest but refused to resign from his position as county treasurer. His term in that office ends Dec. 31. Hiatt did not seek reelection.

Almy said the agreement was the result of plea negotiations and proof issues with the child pornography possession charge. Hiatt’s attorney, Harris Mattson of Bangor, said he filed a motion to suppress the evidence of child pornography that would have been successful.

“The outcome of the motion to suppress was uncertain,” Almy said Tuesday. “As a result of the evaluation of the evidence, we felt this was a reasonable resolution for the situation at hand. The motion to suppress gave us pause as to whether evidence of the possession of child pornography would be admissible.”

Mattson called the outcome of the case “consistent with the law.”

“Mr. Hiatt has always maintained his innocence with respect to these allegations, and dismissal of the most serious charges is consistent with both a lack of evidence and a violation of his constitutional rights by the police,” Mattson said after the sentencing. “His conviction on the least serious charges is a reflection of certain emotional and psychological challenges he experienced in the spring of 2021.”

Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee called the plea agreement “a way for Hiatt to be more successful going forward.”

Hiatt will remain free on personal recognizance bail. 

Initially, Hiatt was charged with one count each of: possession of child pornography and aggravated invasion of computer privacy, both Class C crimes; stalking, a Class D crime; theft by unauthorized taking and violating a bail condition, both Class E crimes; and two counts of harassment, a Class D crime. All charges except the theft charge were dismissed in the plea agreement, and the harassment charge was reduced to a Class E charge.

Hiatt faced up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000 on the Class E theft and harassment charges. If the Class C charges had gone forward and he’d been convicted, Hiatt would have faced up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.