New England news in brief

BOSTON

Former mail carrier gets prison time for stealing mail

A former mail carrier who stole federal stimulus payments as well as gift and ATM cards intended for people on her route has been sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay the money back, federal prosecutors said Friday. Angela Gomez, 40, of Lynn, stole about £5,000 in stimulus payments and made more than £16,000 in fraudulent purchases and ATM withdrawals, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office in Boston. In addition to prison time, Gomez was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation.

Authorities started investigating in February 2020 when a gift card intended for a customer on her route never arrived, prosecutors said. Records indicated that the gift card was used for purchases delivered to Gomez’s home address. Gomez was also seen on security surveillance video making purchases and ATM withdrawals with debit cards that were supposed to be delivered to residents along her route, prosecutors said.

Gomez also stole four US Treasury Economic Impact Payment checks intended for delivery to customers who lived on her route, authorities said. (AP)

SPRINGFIELD

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First-degree murder conviction in 2018 homicide

A Springfield man was convicted by a jury Friday of a 2018 fatal shooting in the city and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Luis Gomez was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Jesus Flores, according to a statement from the Hampden district attorney’s office. Flores, 48, was shot the night of Nov.

3, 2018, and died at the hospital several days later. Early in the investigation, police identified Gomez as a suspect. Detectives subsequently located him in New Britain, Conn.

According to earlier reports, Flores worked at a city restaurant, had a long-time partner and a teenage son. “I am appreciative of all the tireless work by investigators and my prosecutors in bringing justice to Mr. Flores’s family,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said. (AP)

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CANAAN, Vt.

School district nixing mask mandate

The school district in the Vermont town of Canaan is believed to be the only district in the state not to require students and staff to wear masks as suggested by the Agency of Education. The board in the district that abuts the Canadian border and New Hampshire voted 5-1 last month to reject the state’s recommended COVID-19 prevention measures, chiefly the use of face masks as school resumes.

But the board is recommending mask wearing. Masks will be required on school buses. Canaan School Board Chair Dan Wade said the board is not against mask wearing, but members had questions about enforcing a requirement.

Wade tells the Caledonian Record he said he contacted the Vermont School Boards Association and asked if “we can actually enforce it and that was a very questionable point at that time and the answer was ‘no, I don’t think we can.'” Canaan Superintendent Karen Conroy said that since the guidance from the state indicated masks were a recommendation, they asked for parental input and a majority wanted masks to be optional. (AP)

AUBURN, Maine

Landlord finds 19 tarantulas, 1 python left behind by tenant

A Maine landlord arranged for the rescue of 15 tarantulas and one python that had been left behind by a tenant. Animal rescuer Drew Desjardins was called to the apartment Wednesday in Auburn, the Sun Journal reported. He found that four of 19 tarantulas had died and that the ball python did not have water.

Desjardins said Thursday that he took the surviving animals back to his home and that they were doing fine. All the recovered animals are illegal in Maine and will be relocated. There was no word on whether the tenant was being sought. (AP)

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BISBEE, Ariz.

Maine Guard soldier accused of sexually abusing colleague

A Maine National Guard soldier has been charged with sexually abusing a colleague while serving on the southern border, officials said.

Bret Chapman, of Walpole, Maine, was charged with kidnapping, two counts of sexual abuse and one count of aggravated assault, Michael Powell, deputy attorney for Arizona’s Cochise County, said Friday. The assault took place in December while the Maine National Guard were deployed in Arizona, he said. Chapman was arrested on Aug.

27 and posted bail. It’s unclear if a public defender has been appointed for him, Powell said. Chapman didn’t immediately return an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Maine National Guard, which is aware of the charges, said it couldn’t discuss specifics, but it encouraged soldiers to report such behavior.

The 262nd Engineer Company deployed to the southern border in October to assist US Customs and Border Patrol.

It’s scheduled to return this fall. (AP)

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