LEWISTON — A story published by the Maine Sunday Telegram chronicling the life of a Rumford man who was addicted to opiates incorrectly reported the man was a former Maine State Police trooper and incorrectly reported the man volunteered with recovery efforts at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11. 

The Portland newspaper story featured Bob L. Bailey, 53, now of Rumford, and his road from injury to opiate addiction to recovery. In the story, Bailey was described as a 22-year veteran of the Maine State Police.

According to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Bailey was never certified to work as a police officer in Maine. He did complete the pre-service law enforcement class that reserve officers take, but according to academy records Bailey never went to the basic law enforcement academy required for full-time law enforcement officers and was never certified as a police officer.

According to Jeffrey Lange, interim chief of police in Paris, Bailey was hired as a part-time officer for the Paris department in November 1995 and began full-time work in October 1996. He resigned “due to an internal investigation on Aug. 8, 1997,” according to Lange.

Bailey was never employed by the Maine State Police.

He did complete corrections officer basic training on Nov. 16, 2001, and was employed by the Maine Correctional Center as a corrections officer from October 2000 to June 2003.

Bailey told the Maine Sunday Telegram that, in his capacity as a Maine State Police trooper, he volunteered to help with recovery efforts at Ground Zero and fell from a 30-foot pile of debris, sustaining serious injuries. As a result of that fall, he said he has been receiving state disability benefits since 2005.

A media spokesman with the New York City Fire Department said Bailey’s claim that he volunteered with recovery efforts in the aftermath of 9/11 could not be verified because no master list of volunteers was kept. Maine officials could not confirm Bailey was one among dozens of volunteers from Maine who assisted at Ground Zero.

According to Anthony Guido, director of communications for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan, no Robert Bailey is listed in the museum’s registry of volunteers.

Steve Greenlee, managing editor of the Portland Press Herald, said Monday, “We failed to follow our reporting and editing standards” and “we’re reviewing reporting and editing practices to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The story was written by staff writer Joe Lawlor. Lawlor was working Monday, but Greenlee said he would not be taking media calls.

According to a story posted on the Press Herald site around noon on Monday, “questions about Bailey’s claims began surfacing after the story was published.”

The newspaper made several attempts to reach Bailey by phone, text and email Sunday and Monday, without luck.

Around 1 p.m. Monday, the Press Herald posted an editor’s note that the heroin story had been “rewritten to remove references to Bob Bailey, who has falsely described himself as a former Maine state trooper.”

The newspaper also changed the original headline, which had been a direct quote from Bailey.

On Monday, after the Press Herald published its story explaining the errors, Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police, issued a statement to the newspaper: “The story has impugned the reputation of the Maine State Police, the 300 men and women who currently serve, and the hundreds of retired troopers who have worn the badge honorably and proudly since 1925, when the State Police became a separate agency,” Williams said. “Bailey’s personal story is a sad one, but he was never associated with the Maine State Police. If Bailey had been a former trooper and was struggling with addiction and medical issues, we would have known it.”

According to the Press Herald explanation on Monday, the newspaper did try to confirm Bailey’s employment history before publishing the story. “The reporter, Joe Lawlor, asked State Police spokesman Steve McCausland on Friday to confirm that Bailey worked for the department,” but no one was available at the Department of Public Safety for confirmation.

“The newspaper did not pursue the matter further — but should have, said Executive Editor Cliff Schechtman,” in the newspaper’s printed explanation.

“Readers rely on us to verify everything we publish, and in this case we didn’t,” Schechtman said, according to the Press Herald.

Bailey’s claims to the newspaper were part of the man’s effort “to have perpetrated an elaborate long-running hoax. Even his daughter believed he had been a Maine state trooper,” the Press Herald story stated.

In explaining how the exaggerated claims made their way into the Press Herald report, the newspaper outlined two points or “other factors” that supported Bailey’s account:

• “In 2007, Bailey sued the state Department of Health and Human Services over his treatment while in rehabilitation. In a 2008 ruling against Bailey, Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar referred to Bailey as a 45-year-old former Maine state trooper in a section of the decision labeled ‘Facts.'”; and

• “Bailey’s profile on Google+, a social media platform, listed him as a “former Marine, retired/disabled Maine state trooper” and included a photograph of what appears to be him in a trooper’s uniform posing alongside a child whose face is obscured. The caption reads: ‘Trooper Bailey Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital (sic).'”

That photograph has since been removed from the hospital’s site, according to the Press Herald.

Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter said Monday that Bailey is listed in the department’s records because officers there arrested him on an outstanding warrant in June 2014 when he lived on Cumberland Street, but that Bailey is not well-known to officers.

According to the State Bureau of Identification, Bailey was convicted of a misdemeanor criminal trespass in 1981 in Cumberland County and served 60 days of a six-month sentence. In 2006, a charge of violating condition of release was dismissed.

He has an extensive record of operating under the influence, driving after suspension and failure to pay fines.

The Sun Journal attempted to reach Bailey for comment, but he did not respond to a knock at his apartment.

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