March 8, 2012

2 guilty of armed home invasion

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Two men pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in an armed home invasion last summer in Manchester where a woman was awakened by a man holding a knife to her throat.

Michael Jo Ruth II, 36, of Augusta, and Benjamin David Pilsbury, 29, of Augusta, admitted their roles in the armed home invasion and to a series of other crimes -- some committed together and some separately.

Acting District Attorney Alan Kelley said the men wanted money for drugs.

The pair faces lengthy prison terms.

Kelley and Ruth's attorney, Thomas J. Carey, jointly recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison, with all but eight years suspended, and three years of probation for Ruth.

In Pilsbury's case, Kelley and defense attorney Stephen Bourget jointly recommended a sentence of 18 years in prison, with all but seven years suspended, and three years of probation.

The judge accepted the guilty pleas and the recommended sentences, and said a sentencing hearing would be set as soon as the state could provide the amounts of restitution being sought from each man. Meantime, they remain behind bars.

Kelley said restitution was expected to total about $30,000.

Both men have denied holding the homeowner at knifepoint in her bed on Prescott Road on Sept. 5, during the robbery.

They told investigators that a third man, Ricky Allen Lane, 25, of Augusta, actually wielded the knife. Charges in that case and others are pending against Lane, who has previously claimed that it was Ruth who carried the knife.

Ruth pleaded guilty to robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, and burglary, all connected to the Manchester home invasion.

He also pleaded guilty to two burglary and theft charges at two separate homes in Augusta that occurred Sept. 6, and to burglarizing his former mother-in-law's home in Winthrop on Sept. 2, and stealing her jewelry collection, which was valued at over $25,000, Kelley said.

Pilsbury also pleaded guilty to robbery at a Big Apple in Augusta on April 28, and to robbery at the Mobil on the Run in Augusta on Sept. 1, as well as the Prescott Road robbery.

He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and to burglary and theft at the Winthrop home Sept. 2, when the jewelry was stolen.

Kelley said Pilsbury was the only person with a valid license, and he would drive fellow conspirators to the crime scenes. He said Pilsbury confessed to being at the scenes, but said he did not go into any of the homes or stores himself.

"Pilsbury was very cooperative and gave full statements about his involvement in these events," Kelley told Justice Nancy Mills.

In January, a fourth person, Mary Catherine A. Tatlock, 30, of Farmingdale, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery in the Manchester home invasion. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but four years suspended, and three years of probation.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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