NEW VINEYARD — A Carrabassett Valley Police Department employee was summonsed on a misdemeanor charge of operating without a license after a Route 27 crash early Monday, Jan. 28.

According to Franklin County Deputy Derick Doucette, James Nicholas, 28, of Temple was operating a red 2005 Honda Element when the crash occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. Nicholas was not injured, Doucette said.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Lowell said James Nicholas, 28, of Temple was driving too fast for icy road conditions. Nicholas lost control of the vehicle and it flipped onto its side, Lowell said.

A conviction is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles records indicate Nicholas was issued a learner’s permit in June 2009. The permit expired in December 2010. Nicholas was never issued a Maine driver’s license, according to the record.

Carrabassett Valley Police Chief Mark Lopez confirmed Nicholas’ employment with the department but said he was not a police officer, a reserve officer, or a recruit.

A Dec. 20, 2018 photo posted on the Carrabassett Valley Police Department Facebook page identifies James Nicholas, at left rear, as an officer recruit. Nicholas was summonsed on a charge of operating without a license after crashing a 2005 Honda Element on Monday, Jan. 25 in New Vineyard.

“He was hired as a utility person to take care of various tasks including re-setting alarm codes and assisting Sugarloaf guests,” Lopez said.

Carrabassett Valley Town Manager Dave Cota said Nicholas was not an employee of the town. “He was hired as a Sugarloaf employee to work on the security side of things, fixing alarms and that type of stuff,” Cota said. “The intent was never for him to be a police officer.”

“Yes, he worked under the chief of police, who is appointed by the town, but this guy was not an employee of the town,” Cota added.

In a Dec. 20, 2018 Carrabassett Valley Police Department Facebook photo, Nicholas is identified as an officer recruit. He is wearing a blue police uniform in the photo. Other employees identified as non-police personnel, including a utility officer, are not in uniform.

Lopez was unable to comment about his knowledge of Nicholas’ driver’s license status and said it was confidential personnel information.

However, Cota said Lopez had knowledge of Nicholas not having a license. “Mark tells me the guy just got out of the Marines after serving 8 or 9 years and didn’t have a license because there was a snafu with his discharge paperwork,” Cota said. “Mark hired the guy and told him to go get his license. Should Mark have double backed and check to make sure he did? Yes. For whatever reason, he did not.”

A June 19, 2015 a Franklin Journal feature about Nicholas indicates he got out of the military around 2014. The article says he joined the Marines after graduating high school in 2009. After serving for four years, he worked in Texas and North Carolina before returning to Temple in 2015. In June 2015, Nicholas was employed as a Postal Service Employee at the former Temple Post Office and was planning on attending the University of Maine at Farmington.

Franklin County Dispatch logs indicate Nicholas was dispatched to fraud/theft and animal complaint calls in December 2018 and January 2019.

When asked how Nicholas traveled from the department to call locations, Lopez said, “He just got there.”

He would not comment when asked if Nicholas operated CVPD vehicles while performing his duties. Cota confirmed Nicholas operated a vehicle belonging to the department. Police department vehicles are leased or owned by Sugarloaf, not the town, Cota said.

Ethan Austin, Sugarloaf director of marketing and communication said, “James Nicholas was on Sugarloaf payroll but as a Carrabassett Valley Police Department employee. Per the cost-sharing arrangement with the town, he was under the supervision of Chief Mark Lopez. This includes any hiring and firing processes.”

Attempts to reach Nicholas for comment were unsuccessful.

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