Retiring state police chief tapped to head gambling control board

Posted April 29, 2011, at 7:56 p.m.
Last modified April 29, 2011, at 11:32 p.m.
Patrick Fleming
Pat Wellenbach | AP
Patrick Fleming

AUGUSTA, Maine — On Sunday, Col. Patrick Fleming of Fairfield will officially retire from a 27-year career with the Maine State Police. On Monday, he will begin his new job as executive director of the state’s Gambling Control Board.

Fleming was nominated for the post by Public Safety Commissioner John Morris. His nomination was unanimously approved by board members during a meeting in Augusta on Friday morning.

Fleming succeeds Robert Welch of Bangor, who was the board’s first executive director. Welch stepped down from that post last year to take a position with the University of Maine Police Department  in Orono.

“I look forward to this opportunity,” Fleming, 48, said in a brief telephone interview late Friday afternoon. “I think it’s going to be an interesting place to be in the next few years. The landscape of gambling in Maine is going to be changing.”

For the past four years, Fleming has served as chief of the state police. Before that, he was in charge of special investigations, including liquor licensing, gaming and weapons, gambling control and the Executive Protection Unit, which provides security for the governor and other dignitaries.

“It will be nice to be able to focus on one thing,” Fleming said Friday, referring to his wide range of responsibilities with the state police.

Fleming, who was involved with laying the groundwork for Hollywood Slots, Maine’s first and so far only slots parlor, said he applied for the post because of his familiarity with the state’s gaming regulations.

“I knew I could hit the ground running,” he said.

Besides overseeing gaming operations at Hollywood Slots in Bangor, Fleming will oversee the application process for the proposed new casino in Oxford County as well as administer and enforce the state’s rules and regulations for the casino.

On Friday, Fleming noted that he also will monitor bills seeking to establish gambling facilities in Washington County, Biddeford and Lewiston.

Morris cited Fleming’s experience and integrity in nominating him for the post.

“I have great confidence in Colonel Fleming and his abilities to oversee gambling operations in Maine. He will be an outstanding guardian of the state’s interest in this new venture.”

Gov. Paul LePage also applauded the selection.

“Pat is a man of integrity and I know he will bring a high level of professionalism to the position,” the governor said.

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