In January, Heidi McIntosh testified on the sixth day of Scott Poirier’s murder trial that on a Friday evening before Poirier shot his father, she and Poirier had done cocaine.

Jessica Roberts testified that she was at that party and, “We talked, had a few drinks, did a little bit of drugs.”

McIntosh and Roberts are employed by the Department of Health and Human Services and testified under oath that they used cocaine. The people who were in the courtroom for that testimony were taken aback by the sworn disclosure.

More taken aback, it seems, than DHHS.

McIntosh has a clerical job with DHHS and has worked for the agency for nearly four years.

Roberts is an eligibility specialist with DHHS, responsible for determining whether applicants are eligible for food stamps, TANF and day care reimbursement.

Under cross examination by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, both DHHS employees testified that they used cocaine and witnessed the use of cocaine by Poirier and others.

Neither McIntosh nor Roberts have been charged with a crime or disciplined by their government employer.

Under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, we requested access to evidence of disciplinary action against McIntosh and Roberts by DHHS, access guaranteed by law to provide the public with information about the conduct of state workers.

According to Marina Thibeau, director of the DHHS Office of Legal Affairs, the agency has no disciplinary records for McIntosh and Roberts.

We have to question why.

The shared reaction of surprise in the courtroom suggests that the public considers cocaine use by DHHS employees, especially employees who have supervisory control, to be shocking. Worthy of discipline, even.

The agency’s human resources policy and practices manual explicitly outlaws illegal drug use – including cocaine – in the workplace because it is a threat to the health and safety of employees and the public. Specifically, “The illegal manufacture, distribution, dispensing, sale, use or possession of narcotics, drugs, or controlled substances is strictly prohibited on the job or in the workplace and shall constitute a dischargeable offense.”

There’s no mention of drug use outside company time, but any reasonable person would understand that it’s implied simply because use of illegal drugs is a crime.

The DHHS employees offered their testimony on Jan. 23. Today is May 7, which is about 3 months after the court and courtroom observers learned of the cocaine use.

A look at DHHS employee policies reveals many rules governing employee behavior, including a rule prohibiting any employee from soliciting, accepting or receiving a political contribution, or giving a political contribution to anyone who is regulated by the agency.

The policy on political contributions is intended to ward off undue influences, which preserves the credibility and integrity of the agency.

That very credibility and integrity is dented, grossly so, when the agency doesn’t apply the same zeal to discipline employee use of illegal drugs when the use has been admitted, as it certainly was in this case through sworn testimony offered by the cocaine users themselves.

DHHS cares about political corruption. Does it care if its employees are admitted cocaine users?


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