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Former employee pleads guilty to theft of items at Verso's Jay mill

FARMINGTON, Maine (From news reports) -- A Jay, Maine man, one of three former employees accused of taking items from Verso paper mill in Jay, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court.

Under a plea agreement, Stephen Gervais, 48, was given a deferred disposition on a felony charge of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

If he refrains from criminal activity for a year, pays restitution of $1,600 to Verso and appears in court on Aug. 14, 2018, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine, Judge Nancy Carlson said.

If he does not comply, he'll be sentenced on the felony charge, she said.

Gervais was one of three employees accused of taking three spools of rope, valued at over $10,000, and tools from the mill between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said.

Carlson approved an amendment to the charge, striking items of a "value more than $10,000" and replacing it with items of a "value more than $1,000," making it a lower felony charge, before accepting the plea agreement.

Gervais waived his right to have the case reviewed by a grand jury or to have a trial. He has not been indicted on the charge.

If the case had gone to trial, testimony would have been given that an investigation into missing items at Verso led to Caleb Buck, who named Gervais and Shawn Taylor as participants, Robbins said.

A locker Gervais and Taylor shared was found to contain mill items. Gervais admitted helping Buck load a spool of rope and to taking tools, Robbins said.

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