Lewiston police found “no credible evidence of criminal wrongdoing or violations of election law” by recently resigned mayor Shane Bouchard, a department spokesman said Tuesday.
Bouchard’s attorney said the former mayor is “grateful” and that he is calling on the Lewiston City Council to take steps to prevent others from using public meetings to air “wildly defamatory allegations” in the future.
In a two-sentence statement released late Tuesday morning, Lt. David St. Pierre of the Lewiston Police Department said the city’s police and Maine Attorney General’s Office have concluded their investigation into Bouchard, who resigned from the office on March 8 after a local woman shared racist texts he’d sent and accused him of questionable campaign behavior.
Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson separately told the Sun Journal Tuesday that his office also found no crime was committed after investigating additional claims by the woman that Bouchard engaged in unspecified misconduct while working as a wrestling coach at Oak Hill High School.
On two separate occasions earlier this month, Heather Berube took to the public forum of City Council meetings to make allegations of potentially criminal behavior by Bouchard.
Starting on March 5, Berube said she leaked damaging emails to Bouchard from his Democratic opponent in the 2017 mayoral race. She accused him of then passing the emails to a conservative news website, which then posted the emails and, some say, tipped the election in favor of Bouchard.
The GOP official who ran the Maine Examiner website has since said he received the emails, in which Democratic candidate Ben Chin called certain voters “racist,” from a source who was not Bouchard. Bouchard told Maine Public even if he had turned the emails over to the Maine Examiner, it wouldn’t have been illegal, saying “I just can’t coordinate with them on expenditures.”
St. Pierre seemed to settle that matter Tuesday by announcing police and prosecutors have found no credible evidence he broke any criminal or elections laws.
Attorney James Howaniec released a statement on Bouchard’s behalf Tuesday, according to CBS 13.
“Shane Bouchard is grateful for the prompt investigation by the Lewiston Police Department and Maine Attorney General’s Office,” he said. “He was the victim of false accusations and is pleased to put this matter behind him. He will continue to pursue his legal options to ensure that he is not subjected to such harassment in the future. We continue to call upon the Lewiston City Council to implement procedures to ensure that such wildly defamatory allegations are not allowed at public hearings in the future.”
During his March 8 resignation announcement, Bouchard said he has “made many mistakes” while also being a victim of “very damaging rumors.” He blamed “a political culture where the media does not discriminate between facts and rumors” and said he couldn’t fight the allegations effectively from the mayor’s seat.
“I strongly believe that fight will be better fought as a private citizen,” Bouchard said at the time. “I have made this decision with deep consideration as to what is also best for my business and family.”