Former Millinocket police officer Paul Gamble’s 18-year career in law enforcement came to an abrupt end in July 2019 when his boss, the police chief, told the local district attorney’s office that Gamble had lied on a police report about taking a photograph of a domestic violence victim’s injuries.
It was the second time Craig Worster had sent information about Gamble’s alleged dishonesty to the district attorney’s office since Worster became chief just three months earlier.
Marianne Lynch, district attorney for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, decided that, because she had doubts about Gamble’s honesty based on the information the chief had provided, she would refuse to use Gamble as a witness in court — a legal determination called a “Giglio impairment,” named after a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case. Because Gamble couldn’t testify, Millinocket fired him shortly after learning of Lynch’s decision.
But the situation was more complicated. Gamble denied lying about taking the photograph. In court filings, he said Worster gave the district attorney bad information to get rid of him, and accused his former chief of harassment and bullying. He wouldn’t be the last officer in the department to do so.
Indeed, less than a year before Gamble was fired, the former chief had seen his own credibility questioned at a previous Maine police job. Worster also resigned from a Connecticut police department in 2014 after investigators there determined he had created a hostile work environment.
While the state’s police overseer found no evidence of wrongdoing by Gamble, the district attorney has declined to revoke or even review her Giglio determination.
“She’s never given me due process,” Gamble said. “She refuses to even talk to my attorney.”
Some experts expect district attorneys to investigate the validity of the claims against officers when deciding whether to Giglio impair them, a move that can end their careers. But under Maine law and court precedent, a Giglio determination is entirely up to the local prosecutor, with no review or appeals process for officers.
Other legal experts stress that, to do their jobs effectively, district attorneys must have the independence to decide which witnesses to call and that Giglio determinations are part of that purview. They also note that prosecutors should err on the side of not using officers they find untrustworthy to ensure fairness to criminal defendants — and so cases can’t later be overturned if an officer is deceitful on the stand.
But Gamble’s case is unique because it shows how prosecutors can end an officer’s career without providing due process or public explanation, even when the facts are up for debate or provided by someone with his own credibility issues.
Lynch, the district attorney, does not appear to have investigated the former chief’s allegations against his former officer and did not give Gamble a hearing or chance to defend himself.
She has given no public statement about the decision and declined to answer questions for this story.
In July 2020, Millinocket agreed to a $90,000 settlement with Gamble. As part of the settlement, the town asked Lynch to rescind her Giglio impairment of Gamble, which she has not done.
Gamble declined to comment on his interactions with the chief, citing conditions of his settlement agreement, but he agreed to speak about the district attorney’s office.
In January 2020, Gamble, using a pseudonym, filed a lawsuit against Lynch that alleged the district attorney denied him his right to defend himself and that the former police chief “exploited the lack of due process in [Gamble’s] situation to facilitate a pattern of retaliation, harassment and workplace bullying.”
The lawsuit alleged many instances of harassment, including on one day, May 17, 2019, when Worster wrote up Gamble nine times. All the discipline was based on “various non-meritorious, mitigated, exaggerated or contrived performance and conduct allegations,” the lawsuit alleged. It was dismissed on procedural grounds last year but is now being heard by a federal appeals court.
One of Gamble’s former coworkers said Gamble’s depiction in court filings of being targeted by Worster was accurate and that the chief wrote up Gamble, but not other officers, for minor issues.
“[Worster] had his sights on Gamble for some reason,” said Roy Bickford, a former Millinocket police officer who resigned under Worster. “It seemed like he really had it out for him.”
The bad blood between the two men started within a month of the new chief’s arrival. On April 29, 2019, Worster accused Gamble of working with another officer to “sabotage” a police cruiser and “then engineer a crash” of the vehicle and “use the incident against the chief,” according to the lawsuit.
A few days later, Gamble told Millinocket’s human resources director that the chief was “exhibiting paranoid tendencies,” Gamble’s complaint said. Later, the chief told another officer that Gamble had installed listening devices throughout the department, the lawsuit alleged.
Gamble is not the only former Millinocket police officer who has accused the former chief of harassment. In February, Millinocket agreed to a $150,000 legal settlement with Janet Theriault, Worster’s former deputy chief, after Theriault filed a complaint against Worster in 2020. The complaint remains confidential.
Worster’s attorney, Ezra Willey, did not respond to a list of emailed questions.
The secrecy and lack of due process inherent in Giglio determinations have consequences for police officers like Gamble and the public.
While Gamble is unable to work because of his Giglio impairment, other officers across the state continue to work after district attorneys put them on secret lists for deciding they have similar — but less severe — credibility issues. Who these officers are, and why they are on the lists, is information prosecutors don’t even typically share with each other.
For example, it’s not clear whether the town of Millinocket or the Penobscot County district attorney knew that prosecutors in Lincoln County had put Worster on such a list before he was hired to run the Millinocket Police Department in April 2020.
The public only knows Gamble’s name because he decided to speak about his Giglio impairment. It’s unclear how many other officers in Maine are on Giglio lists now or have been in the past. It’s also not known if different district attorneys have different criteria for Giglio impairing officers, meaning it’s unclear if some officers would be Giglio impaired in one county for offenses that wouldn’t result in a Giglio determination in another county.
Despite prosecutors keeping Giglio lists secret, they can still cause problems for the elected officials. In 2018, a disagreement about a Giglio impairment of a Rockland police officer became a campaign issue during the run for the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office.
The law provides little guidance on what qualifies as a Giglio-impairable offense. Anything that can demonstrate bias, prejudice or a lack of credibility can be considered “Giglio material,” said Natasha Irving, district attorney for Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties.
“That’s a very different analysis from DA to DA and person to person,” Irving said.
The lack of standardized Giglio procedures prompted the Maine Prosecutors’ Association to convene a group late last year to study how different offices handle Giglio issues and potentially recommend changes.
Some district attorneys will give officers a chance to challenge their place on Giglio lists. Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, and president of the Maine Prosecutors’ Association, said her policy is to meet with an officer she might Giglio impair because “it obviously impacts his employment.”
While legal experts agreed Lynch, the Penobscot County district attorney, has no legal obligation to allow Gamble to present his side of the story, some didn’t understand why she wouldn’t.
“If [a police officer] is willing to come in and talk about this matter, and they make a credible claim of harassment, I really don’t understand why a prosecutor wouldn’t be willing to listen,” said Michael Cassidy, a professor at Boston College Law School and a former prosecutor. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to listen.”
Other experts said district attorneys shouldn’t call an officer to testify if they aren’t comfortable doing so.
“I applaud the DA here who doesn’t want to put an officer who she thinks is compromised on the stand,” said Daniel Medwed, a professor of law and criminal justice at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.
Gamble previously served as the chief of both the Gouldsboro and Swan’s Island police departments and interviewed for the Millinocket police chief job before the town hired Worster, according to the lawsuit. He has had disciplinary issues at other stops in his career, one of which was cited in Lynch’s decision to Giglio impair Gamble.
He was suspended for two days for sleeping on the job as an Ellsworth police officer in 2012, though Gamble said his sleepiness was due to a medical issue that has since been treated. He was also fired from his job as the chief of the Gouldsboro Police Department in 2016 for allegedly using a department credit card to put gas in his car, which he said he had been given permission to do. Ultimately, Gamble reached a settlement with Gouldsboro, which rescinded his termination and allowed him to resign.
Gamble’s history did not prevent him from getting a job as an officer with the Millinocket Police Department in 2018.
Other jurisdictions outside Maine allow officers to make their cases. Greg Totten, the former district attorney for Ventura, California, created a policy, now widely adopted across California, that allows officers and their representatives to meet with district attorneys before a decision is reached on Giglio impairments.
Most officers don’t bother, said Totten, who is now the chief executive officer of the California District Attorneys Association. But, of those who do, many present new information.
“I’d say in 20 to 30 percent of the cases, sitting down and talking to the officer and their representative gives us information we wouldn’t have otherwise had that enables us to make a more informed decision,” Totten said. “In this country we hold dear the whole concept of due process and that you should have a right to defend yourself.”
‘The bottom line for us is we want to be right’
Worster first raised questions about Gamble’s credibility to the district attorney’s office in April 2019, after he was on the job for less than a month. But Worster’s information was not correct, according to Gamble’s lawsuit.
Worster told the prosecutor he had reviewed Gamble’s pre-employment polygraph test and said it showed Gamble had admitted to stealing knives while an officer in Kansas more than a decade earlier, a charge Gamble denied.
On May 30, 2019, Lynch wrote to Worster that she would inform defendants in cases in which Gamble testified that Gamble had admitted he was fired from the Gouldsboro Police Department for misusing a municipal credit card. She would also inform them that he had taken “knives that were property of defendants out of the department’s evidence locker.”
In an interview, Gamble said he never had a chance to respond to either allegation outlined in Lynch’s letter.
If he had, he would have told Lynch that, while he had been fired from Gouldsboro for allegedly spending $120 on gas on a town credit card, the firing was later rescinded. He also would have told her that the town agreed to a $67,500 settlement after Gamble filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, he said.
In response to the theft allegation, Gamble said knives were not allowed in court or jail, so suspects would often leave knives with officers entering those facilities and never reclaim them.
He occasionally took one of these knives from a drawer while on duty if he didn’t have one, he said. These knives were not evidence related to any crime and had nothing to do with investigations, Gamble said. Yet Worster told Lynch that Gamble had admitted to theft of evidence, according to Gamble’s lawsuit against the district attorney.
One former officer who worked with Gamble in Kansas confirmed that defendants’ knives were often left unclaimed and were not considered evidence. At the time in 2009, knives sometimes “got stored in our property and arrestees wouldn’t come claim them,” said Brandon Andres, a lieutenant with the Iola Police Department.
Andres said he could see somebody taking a knife “if we needed to open something here at the police department,” but added that the policy has since changed and that all knives are stored and labeled with the names of the people they were taken from.
Another long-time Iola officer, Sgt. Bob Dressler, said he was “not aware of any kind of help-yourself-to-a-knife box.”
Neither officer was contacted by Worster or Lynch’s office, they said. Gamble was not charged with a crime, and he said he never faced discipline for taking a knife.
It also didn’t block his future employment. “If there was an issue with [Gamble’s] polygraph, I would have dealt with it at the time,” said former Millinocket police Chief Steve Kenyon, who hired Gamble in 2018. He declined to comment on the issue further.
Investigating potentially career-ending information sent to their offices would require district attorneys to spend resources that could be dedicated to prosecuting cases. But former prosecutors Totten and Cassidy said the work should be done regardless of whether a district attorney is legally obligated to do so.
“The bottom line for us is we want to be right,” Totten said.
Sometimes, however, it’s not clear what “right” means. Most people have likely done something that would call into question their credibility, said former long-time Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson.
“I’m sure with a little bit of digging I could find some impeachment material on you,” Anderson said. “And probably somebody could find some on me. It’s a really thorny issue.”
‘I forgot to take pictures of you’
On June 16, 2019, Gamble went on the domestic violence call that would end his career in law enforcement due to allegations, supported by a witness, that he lied about trying to take a photograph.
Gamble arrived at a Millinocket home before 10 p.m. where a woman said her boyfriend, Wyatt McGraw, pushed her against a wall, grabbed her around the throat and ripped her shirt, according to Gamble’s police report. The BDN is not naming the woman because it does not name victims of domestic violence without permission.
Before arresting McGraw, Gamble tried to take a picture of the woman’s neck injuries, but his camera went dead as he tried to take the picture, he wrote in his police report. Later, the woman said Gamble did not try to take a picture during his initial visit. This discrepancy ultimately prompted Worster to tell the district attorney that Gamble lied on his police report — information the prosecutor used to Giglio impair Gamble.
But back at the Millinocket Police Department, Gamble told Worster he had taken a picture and that his camera battery had died. When Worster asked to see the picture, Gamble showed him how the camera wouldn’t turn on, he wrote in his report.
Gamble then returned to the scene, with the suspect still in the police car, because he realized he didn’t have some of the woman’s information. This time he took a picture of her injuries with his phone “because I wasn’t sure if the first one actually came out,” he wrote.
While Gamble drove McGraw to Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, Worster visited the scene and took additional photographs of the victim’s injuries. He also took down her statement, which contained a complaint about Gamble.
“Photographs of my injuries were not taken when officer arrived, officer came back to my home with Wyatt in car,” the woman wrote.
Based on the woman’s statement, Worster said Gamble lied about trying to take the picture during the first visit to the victim’s home. The chief then sent the information to Lynch. Lynch informed the chief in a letter dated July 23, 2019, that she would no longer prosecute cases Gamble was involved in. A week later, the town terminated Gamble.
Gamble insisted the woman was wrong, and he had tried to take a picture the first time. But, in an interview, the woman stood by her account.
Gamble did have trouble with his camera, but it was only after he returned to the house, not the first time he arrived, as he wrote in his report, she said.
“He came back and was like, ‘I forgot to take pictures of you,’ and he had [McGraw] with him,” she said.
She also said McGraw was sending Facebook messages to her and her family after his arrest because Gamble hadn’t taken away his cell phone. Worster came and took her statement in part because she had contacted the police department about the ongoing messages, she said. McGraw later pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault.
The district attorney’s office never contacted the woman about the incident and how it related to Gamble’s Giglio matter, she said. But she called Gamble’s handling of the incident “unprofessional.”
‘Trying to figure out why Lynch is doing what she’s doing’
Another law enforcement oversight entity reached a different conclusion than Lynch about whether Gamble lied in his police report.
At nearly the same time Lynch decided she could not use Gamble in court, Worster filed a complaint against Gamble with the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, which oversees the certification of Maine’s police officers, alleging Gamble made a false statement related to the domestic violence incident.
The academy can levy a range of penalties against officers. It can issue a letter of guidance, put officers on probation, suspend them from duty or revoke their ability to be a police officer. But in Gamble’s case, the academy determined in January 2020 that there was “insufficient evidence of disqualifying conduct” and did not issue any punishment. Because the academy’s disciplinary proceedings are confidential, it’s unclear what evidence it heard to make its determination.
While Gamble’s lawsuit alleges Lynch is the one who cost him his employment, the Maine attorney general’s office, which is representing Lynch, said it’s Millinocket that fired Gamble, not Lynch, so she can’t be liable for him losing his job.
One expert pointed out Gamble resolved his dispute with the town when he agreed to a settlement. The “issue was litigated when that officer settled with the town,” said Bennett Gershman, a law professor at Pace University in New York City.
While Gamble’s $90,000 settlement is substantial, it’s not enough to replace a career in law enforcement, especially after lawyer’s fees are paid. At his Millinocket home on March 26, Gamble sounded resigned to the fact that his career as a police officer is over. But he still wants answers.
“My biggest thing is really just trying to figure out why Lynch is doing what she’s doing,” he said.
This story was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Have information to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.