Jeff Etienne and Ronald Favis met on the first day of school. A friendship quickly formed only to end a couple of weeks ago.
“We were at Wendy’s one day and he had [the credit card] out and I memorized the number,” said Jeff Etienne, a freshman majoring in criminology and Portland Hall resident. Etienne then used this number to pay for his phone bill.
Etienne was unsure which day he actually memorized the number. “First week of September, second week, something like that,” he said.
“It was a mistake. I should have never done it,” said Etienne. “I feel sorry because certain people on the campus know about it. They hadn’t said anything to me about it but sometimes I think: What are they thinking? Are they thinking I’m a thief? That they can’t trust me? I don’t want to be depicted as that because I’m not.”
Ronald Favis reported the misuse of his girlfriend’s card on September 21. Etienne charged approximately $85 to the card to pay for his phone bill. Etienne was charged with theft and credit card fraud on September 23.
According to Etienne, Favis went to the police to report the misuse of the card. “I don’t think he mentioned any names. And then he came to me right after that,” said Etienne.
“He was making like a lot of threats,” said Etienne. These threats prompted Etienne to go to the police. Favis was making threats of “doing bodily harm,” said Etienne. According to Etienne the threats were reported to the police and “an order of protection of harassment” was issued.
At this point Etienne did not know Favis had reported the misuse of the credit card. When he reported the threats to the police “they wanted to know why [Favis was making threats] and I told them why.”
I didn’t know about the police being involved. The only reason why the police know is because I went to the police station and basically told them and confessed everything,” said Etienne.
Favis, a USM student and Gorham campus resident, refused to comment about the order of protection of harassment and the threats.
The police department daily media log reports that on September 23, three hours before Etienne was charged, there was a report of criminal threatening at Portland Hall. Because both of these cases are under investigation Police Lieutenant Ronald Saindon was unable comment on either case or to confirm or deny any relation between the two instances.
According to Etienne, he and Favis met on the first day of school. “We were friends,” he said. “…we had a good friendship from the time we met each other and I basically ruined a good friendship.”
On Thursday, September 6, according to Etienne, Etienne met with Stephen Nelson. Stephen Nelson is the assistant to the vice president for community standards. Stephen Nelson and Mary Kay Kasper, assistant to the vice president for intercultural development, are the two student conduct code officers for USM.
Due to federal law Stephen Nelson could not speak about Etienne’s case, but he was able explain the student conduct office’s general procedure.
Prior to meeting with Nelson, students who are facing charges, receive a notice of hearing. According to Nelson, this notice explains the student’s rights, the date and time of the hearing, the charges being filed and the student’s right of an appeal.
At the hearing Nelson “gets to know about who [the students] are, where they are from and what they’re studying,” he said. He also explains the students’ rights, the appeals process and goes over the incident and charges.
After the student leaves, “I decide if charges were violated. And if yes, I decide the sanctions to impose,” said Nelson. “Most cases are decided in a day or two of the meeting,” he said.
Etienne, at the time of the interview, had not yet received the particulars of his sanction. “It could be anywhere from suspension to getting kicked out of school,” he said.
Certain crimes carry minimum sanctions at USM. For credit card fraud the minimum sanction is suspension.
“It doesn’t matter why you did it, it doesn’t matter how minimal the violation was we start with a suspension from the University,” Nelson said. “The courts will also intervene if the victim requests.”
Etienne is scheduled to appear at the Portland District Court on November 1, 2004. He does not have a lawyer and plans to enter a plea of guilty.
Bobby, an assistant clerk for the Portland District Court, who could not give out his last name due to court policy, said “cases involving credit card fraud often carry a $300 to $700 fine.” Bobby said he was speaking “in the most general cases.” At press time the courts had not yet received Etienne’s case from the District Attorney’s office.