AUGUSTA — Kennebec County’s maintenance manager is being paid through Friday despite nearly a year-long sexual assault investigation that resulted in his recent arrest and a lengthy history of disciplinary actions taken against him for prior misconduct on the job.

James Saucier

James Saucier, 58, of Belgrade, was arrested Jan. 28 on sexual assault charges involving a woman incarcerated at the Kennebec County jail who was under his supervision. He is facing three counts of gross sexual assault, Class B felony charges punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Saucier was placed on paid administrative leave on April 9, 2020, according to documents from his personnel file obtained this week by a Kennebec Journal Freedom of Access Act request. That happened once Augusta police began investigating allegations he had sexually assaulted the incarcerated woman.

On Feb. 4, one week after his arrest, Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin sent Saucier a letter informing him his suspension would change from paid to unpaid Friday. He is also losing his county-provided benefits, though he can continue his health insurance at his own expense.

“As you know, you have been on paid administrative leave pending the investigation into allegations of misconduct,” the letter stated. “This letter is to advise you that effective February 12, 2021, your leave status is being changed to unpaid. You will no longer receive pay or benefits.”

The letter later states Saucier is still a county employee, pending the outcome of the criminal case. When that is resolved, Devlin wrote, a determination will be made regarding his employment status, including pay and benefits.

Saucier’s current salary is $57,306. He was first employed by Kennebec County as a part-time corrections officer, from Sept. 25, 1985, through Feb. 2, 1986, when he tendered his resignation. Saucier was then hired as a maintenance custodian, starting May 20, 1986; he was promoted to superintendent of buildings Jan. 20, 1987, and his current title is maintenance supervisor.

In an affidavit supporting his arrest on the gross sexual assault charges, police allege Saucier sexually assaulted an incarcerated woman, working as a trusty under his supervision, on three occasions between February and March 2020.Trusties are people in jail who are allowed to do maintenance work, initially inside of the Kennebec County Correctional Facility. They can later be authorized to work outside of the jail, under the supervision of correctional staff and a maintenance supervisor, also classified as a supervisor of the trusties. In this case, Saucier was classified as a supervisor of the trusties.

According to the alleged victim, Saucier initiated the assaults in his office, located in the basement of the former Kennebec County courthouse building at 95 State St. in Augusta. The woman first told a jail corrections officer about the allegations, the affidavit states, and county officials asked Augusta police to investigate.

Saucier has a history of disciplinary actions while employed by Kennebec County, including a pair of unpaid suspensions.

The first suspension was in 2016, following an investigation into his “misuse of county property, failure to follow a direct order, using county property for personal gain and profit and committing several federal and state violations.” Those violations, Devlin wrote, included “transporting hazardous materials, removal of the trailers (sic) registration plates to conceal the activity and placing the county at great risk while performing these activities…”

For that incident, Saucier was prohibited from using the county vehicle for personal use, including for home-to-work travel. He also was given a three-week unpaid suspension, including the week of Aug. 1-5, 2016, and then 10 consecutive Wednesdays off without pay.

Devlin, who declined to comment Tuesday on any of the information contained in Saucier’s personnel documents, said in the letter those violations “clearly warrant termination,” but that Saucier would instead be suspended and lose the use of a county vehicle.

“Any future violations of county policy, failure to follow direct orders, misuse of county property may result in termination,” Devlin wrote.

Despite that admonishment, in May 2020 Saucier was investigated — while he was on paid administrative leave over the sexual assault allegations — for misuse of a county credit card.

A letter dated May 19, 2020, from Devlin states Saucier used a county credit card to pay $38.79 for two cases of Natural Light beer at Sam’s Club, an expenditure discovered when it showed up on the April 2020 credit card statement. In the letter, Saucier was summoned to a May 26, 2020, meeting to discuss the matter.

He was disciplined in that matter, outlined in a May 29, 2020, letter from Devlin. The county administrator wrote that he had met with the Sam’s Club manager and said he believed Saucier’s “‘excuse’ for mistakenly charging two cases of beer to the county account is plausible.” Despite that, Devlin wrote that Saucier had violated county policy and violated a direct order not to possess a county credit card. The sanction for that was a two-week unpaid suspension — while Saucier was already on paid administrative leave.

It is unclear, from the documents, whether the purchase took place before or after Saucier was placed on administrative leave due to the sexual assault allegations.

His personnel files also included a written reprimand for “failure to follow a directive” in 2013 for allegedly not providing written specifications to vendors for projects he was working on, and a written warning for failure to follow safety procedures in 2012 for allegedly removing a safety guard from a power saw and cutting a piece of plywood with it, with the warning noting he had been spoken to several times with regard to safety equipment.

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