A Jonesboro man facing civil and criminal charges for allegedly making racist remarks and threats against an interracial family is pushing back against the claims.

Dale O’Brien, 52, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Washington County Superior Court to one count of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon for allegedly pointing a handgun at his neighbors, a Black man and his white wife, while they were walking near his home on a private road, which court records state both families had permission to use.

The Office of the Maine Attorney General announced last week that they had filed a civil complaint against O’Brien in the same matter, alleging he also used racial slurs at a hardware store a month earlier and told someone he believed that he could get away with shooting a Black man.

The attorney general is seeking an injunction against O’Brien barring him from contacting his neighbors and from violating the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future.

But O’Brien denies that the hardware store conversation ever occurred. His attorney, Jeffrey Davidson, said Wednesday that the criminal charge is based on false statements the neighbors made to police after their other civil actions against O’Brien and his boss were unsuccessful.

O’Brien declined through his attorney to speak about the case. Efforts to reach the couple whom Davidson identified as the neighbors were unsuccessful. The family has not been identified by the attorney general’s office and court records in the criminal case were not available electronically on Wednesday.


According to Davidson, the neighbors O’Brien is accused of threatening stayed at the O’Brien home various times between December 2020 and April 2021 while the family was in the process of moving to Maine.

Davidson shared screenshots of what appeared to be texts between O’Brien’s wife and the couple planning different visits. Davidson also shared photographs that he said depict the two families spending time together during Easter in 2021. He said he also shared those documents with the district attorney’s office.

District Attorney Robert Granger said Wednesday that his deputy district attorney is handling the case, so he wasn’t aware of what materials Davidson had shared with his office.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to respond to O’Brien’s objections because the office doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Davidson disputed that O’Brien had ever made racist remarks to his neighbors or threatened them because the husband is Black.

“Making a legal claim of racial bias against any person should only be done with sober deliberation and by presenting a complete factual picture because the risk of causing harm with the claim itself is great,” Davidson wrote in a statement last week.


He said that the two families were friendly until the neighbors became unhappy with O’Brien’s boss, whom he said they hired as a contractor in the fall of 2020.

The neighbors sued the contractor and the case was dismissed in May 2022, a clerk for the Machias District Court confirmed Wednesday.

“In that lawsuit they made various claims, which included making some rather ugly statements about the O’Briens, but there was no claim of any bad actions based upon their race,” Davidson wrote.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office began investigating O’Brien in April, according to the attorney general’s complaint. Local prosecutors filed a criminal charge that month and O’Brien was indicted in July.

Granger said last week that his office informed the attorney general in April, about the same time O’Brien was criminally charged, that there might be civil rights violations stemming from the case.

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