AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey closed a review of the state’s chief medical examiner on Friday, issuing a letter that said nothing in the review shook his confidence in Dr. Mark Flomenbaum.
Frey, a Democrat, has been reviewing the medical examiner since March, when Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship, made a complaint to the office that grew between then and November to include other issues, including a finding that alcoholism contributed to the death of an Appalachian Trail hiker. Flomenbaum reversed that after a Bangor Daily News story.
These reviews are typically treated as confidential under state law, but Frey’s office said it got Flomenbaum’s consent to release a letter summarizing the review. In a statement, Flomenbaum said he would “continue to ensure that the people of Maine can trust our office.”
“I appreciate that the process is an unbiased attempt to shed light on the highly complex and often misunderstood workings of civil and governmental agencies,” Flomenbaum said.
Evangelos responded to Frey by criticizing him for not considering a 2016 letter from a Connecticut prosecutor alerting Gov. Janet Mills to testimony he gave in a child manslaughter case that a judge deemed “not credible.” He said he “can’t put much stock” into the findings as a result.
“In fact, I reject them, and will ask the Judiciary Committee to ask you to appear and explain them,” he said.
The review was almost wholly positive for Flomenbaum, noting a 2018 finding from a national medical examiners’ group that the Maine office was one of the best in the country. Frey said Flomenbaum’s testimony “has been integral to many murder convictions.”
Frey did chide him for a 2017 job posting that used macabre humor, saying many bodies here are “lost at sea or wind up in either New Hampshire or Canada.” Frey said it “does not convey to the public the high standards and professionalism and dignity” expected from state officials.
Evangelos’ complaint was largely based on a Maine Sunday Telegram column exploring Flomenbaum’s business as a consultant in out-of-state death cases. Evangelos charged that it appeared Flomenbaum was operating the business on state time.
However, Frey said the office found no evidence of that other than an incidental call from a reporter allowed under state policy. Frey said the medical examiner works in excess of 40 hours per week for the state and that his business doesn’t inhibit Flomenbaum’s official role.