Sheriff goes to court over deputy’s job

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AUBURN – Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins filed a complaint in Superior Court on Monday in hopes of prompting county commissioners to approve a deputy Desjardins wants to hire immediately.

In the request for an injunction, the sheriff accused the commission of engaging in illegal activity aimed at preventing Desjardins from appointing a deputy of his choosing.

For months, Desjardins and the three-member commission have squabbled over a new patrol position the sheriff says is vital to the safety of the community. The commission at first balked at creating the new slot, suggesting that an additional officer is not necessary.

In early June, commissioners relented, allowing Desjardins to open the new position to applicants and hire someone to fill it. But the agreement hit a snag: Desjardins had already taken applications and had decided on Maurice Drouin, a Livermore Falls police officer, whom he wanted to begin patrol at once.

The commission hedged again. They told Desjardins he must start the hiring process over, and they refused to acknowledge Drouin as the new deputy.

In the court complaint filed Monday, Desjardins and his attorney, Jonathan Berry, suggested commissioners have been intentionally trying to thwart the sheriff’s efforts to fill the new position. The commission, the complaint states, “have and continue to employ clever procedural devices to forestall a final decision upon the employment of an additional patrol deputy.”

The complaint also accused the commission of an “outright dereliction of duty” by interfering with the operation of the sheriff’s office and depriving taxpayers of services that have been previously paid for.

“Every day that passes, under the status quo, represents additional services that the citizen taxpayers of Androscoggin County have paid for yet are thus far undelivered,” the document states.

The fight over the new position has been an ugly one. At one meeting, commissioners threatened to have Desjardins thrown out. The sheriff later made a public call for commission Chairman Elmer Berry to resign.

When he named Drouin as his choice for the new deputy position, Desjardins insisted the commission had 14 days to respond in writing. When they did not, the sheriff vowed he would sue to get the hiring finalized.

Desjardins also wants to be reimbursed $300 for a newspaper ad he placed to advertise the deputy job. Normally, the bill would be picked up by the county. But commissioners have said that Desjardins placed the ad before they gave him permission to do so.

The complaint was filed late Monday afternoon. By the time Androscoggin County Superior Court closed, the document was being reviewed by a court justice.

The commission is being represented by Auburn attorney Brian Dench. He could not be reached for comment about the complaint Monday afternoon.

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