This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center.
A candidate for the Brewer School Committee was previously fired from his job as a jail guard for sexual harassment and had been disciplined four other times during his tenure at the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth.
Hancock County commissioners voted to end Sgt. Troy Richardson’s employment as a corrections officer on June 7, 2016, according to the government body’s meeting minutes. The minutes don’t elaborate on the reason for firing him, only that his termination was “on the grounds of sexual harassment.”
Records related to substantiated cases of misconduct among county employees are public, but Hancock County has no documents specifying what exactly happened leading up to Richardson’s termination, Assistant County Administrator Rebekah Knowlton said.
Richardson’s termination paperwork filed with the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, which oversees the training and certification of law enforcement officers, however, confirms he was discharged for “work ethics.”
Richardson declined to comment on what happened in his previous employment but acknowledged the public’s right to know about his firing.
“It’s all public knowledge. It’s your right,” he said. “It’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion — all about it. I’m not going to comment on that for the newspaper. If people have questions, they want to reach out to me, I have no issue with that.”
The revelations about Richardson’s history come as he seeks to serve on the five-member board that oversees the Brewer School Department, which educates about 1,350 students.
He is running, in part, to tackle bullying. “When I was in school, that happened to me. That’s one of the things I want to address,” he said.
He also wants to be a part of improving the school district’s sports fields and making Brewer High School an attractive pick for area students who can choose their high school, he said.
In addition to being fired, the jail administrator and sheriff disciplined Richardson four times in two years, when he was a sergeant at the jail.
In 2015 and 2016, he was written up for leaving a cart full of medication and needles unlocked, with the keys lying on top; for taking a day off without approval; and for being untruthful about a day that he skipped work, according to his discipline records. In another instance, he showed “a serious lack of professional behavior toward another officer from another department” and a “lack of respect” toward his supervisor, though the records don’t detail what happened.
Richardson declined to comment publicly on his discipline, instead saying he would answer people’s questions directly if they asked. “I have no problem talking to anybody about anything, the people — not airing that in the Bangor Daily News,” he said.
A month after his last discipline, in June 2016, the commissioners approved his firing, 2-1. The commissioner who opposed the firing, Steven Joy, objected to the public nature of the termination.
“In a private business, an employee can resign to save his dignity and he offered to allow Sgt. Richardson that opportunity today,” according to the meeting minutes.
But the other commissioners, Percy Brown Jr. and Antonio Blasi, said they would not rescind their decision.
Joseph Piccone, the union representative for the jail’s corrections officers, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
A review of Richardson’s Facebook page shows he shares far-right memes ridiculing Black Lives Matter protesters, demeaning women and promoting conspiracies. In one, he wrote “Amen” when sharing a post that cast doubt on the veracity of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will not be masked, tested, tracked, chipped or poisoned to support this orchestrated lie,” it read. As of Oct. 14, Maine has logged 5,836 cases of the coronavirus and 144 deaths.
In sharing a post in which Hillary Clinton criticized President Donald Trump’s lack of commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, he described her as a dog, saying, “Go lay down next to your ball bitch!”
Asked about his posts, he said he wasn’t going to comment. “I’m running for school board based on policy, not politics,” he said. Referring to the school committee seat, he said, “It’s not Democrat. It’s not Republican. That’s what it’s being turned into, and I’m not going to be part of that.”
Richardson ran for Brewer School Committee last year and lost. His opponents this year are Benjamin Umel, who previously served on the committee, and Cynthia Small, an incumbent. Voters will choose two of the three candidates to fill open seats.
Richardson was a corrections officer at the Hancock County Jail for 17 years, from September 1999 to June 2016, according to records kept by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. Despite being fired from the jail, he continued in his role as a deputy judicial marshal until November 2017 when he resigned, according to academy records.
That same month he established Bangor Private Investigations Inc. where he offers to covertly surveil cheating spouses, perform background checks, and collect and examine the evidence of crimes, according to his website.
He has held a variety of other positions in court security and law enforcement, often overlapping between agencies. He was a part-time officer for the Mount Desert Police Department, a part-time deputy with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and a part-time patrolman with the Bar Harbor Police Department, according to academy records.
Staff writer Charles Eichacker contributed to this story.