PARIS — Oxford County Sheriff Christopher Wainwright is facing questions once again after it was revealed that he sold dozens of guns from the department’s evidence room without the knowledge of county officials and outside the financial scrutiny of those officials.

A nine-month investigation by the Bangor Daily News uncovered the sale of firearms that were sold for credit to J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop on Garfield Road in Auburn.

Oxford County Sheriff Christopher Wainwright File photo

The Oxford County Administrator’s Office has no record of the sales, which took place in 2020 and 2021, County Administrator Donald Durrah said.

A money trail is missing as the Treasurer’s Office has no record of money coming in or out of the treasury to cover the sale and the purchase of other firearms with the credit the gun shop gave the sheriff for the sale.

“We have reeled in our sheriff, so right now he’s walking a thin line and he knows that,” Commissioner David Duguay of Byron told the Bangor Daily News.

“Just like past sheriffs, I think he’s taken a lot of liberties that they should not take,” Duguay added. “They need to recognize that the commissioners hold the purse strings. There are some sheriffs in the state, I believe, that think they’re above the law.”


“I think Dave Duguay put it best in his response,” Durrah said Tuesday. “It is unfortunately not how we would prefer business to be done. But the deal was brokered by the sheriff and completed by the sheriff.”

Asked if an investigation was underway, Durrah replied, “At this moment, no. But we are assessing the situation as we speak.”

In response to the gun sales, the county updated its purchasing and bidding policy adopted May 5, requiring at least two written or verbal quotes from licensed dealers when trading firearms. The deals must be documented, and the county administrator must also sign off on any deal in advance.

The original sale of 70 weapons to Reid’s took place in 2020, before Durrah became county administrator. Saying it merely paid the invoices, the shop paid $31,700 for rifles, guns and ammunition. Meeting minutes say commissioners gave the sheriff permission to sell some guns, but the county has no record of any receipts from that deal and J.T. Reid could not provide the county with any.

Two more deals were made in June and September 2021 for Reid’s to sell 52 more firearms and parts. Made during his transition from interim to acting administrator, Durrah said he was not aware of the sales before the transaction. Durrah said he has no documentation on how the reported $5,300 credit was used.

At least one of the guns, according to the Bangor Daily News investigation, was confirmed stolen from a home in Dixfield with lots of documentation. No effort was made before the sale to try to contact the owner, according to the report.


District Attorney Neil McLean Jr. was checking a list of guns sold from the evidence room to see if any were connected to cases still open or eligible for appeal.

While many police departments destroy the firearms that are seized, Maine law does allow them to be auctioned to the highest bidder. Guns used to kill individuals cannot be sold.

This is not the first time Wainwright’s actions have been questioned.

In May, Wainwright faced discipline for asking one of his deputies to go easy on a woman who had received a traffic citation. He then berated the deputy when he discovered he had reported the incident to his supervisor. The complaint said Wainwright overstepped his authority and acted unprofessionally during his interaction with the deputy.

The county commission rebuked the sheriff for his actions. Calling it “a close call” and saying the board had “no good choices,” Duguay and commissioners Timothy Turner of Buckfield and Steven Merrill of Norway said it would be less disruptive to keep Wainwright on a short rope, rather than recommend terminating him now and waiting in limbo for the governor to decide.”

The commission has no power to terminate the sheriff. State statute gives that authority to the governor. The only legal option commissioners have is to send a letter of complaint to the governor requesting his termination.

Wainwright did not return a call seeking comment.

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