Falmouth gadfly claims town fraudulently charged for documents

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

FALMOUTH — A frequent town critic is suing the town for mail fraud over freedom of access charges.

Michael Doyle, of 3 Shady Lane, filed his complaint in U.S. District Court on April 25, and presented a copy of the lawsuit to the Town Council that night. He is suing the council, Town Manager Nathan Poore, and the town itself.

Doyle is representing himself, and has requested a jury trial. His claim states he was intentionally defrauded $345 over a period of 26 months. He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus interest and costs.

Doyle claims that from October 2011 until December 2013 he submitted 30 Freedom of Access Act requests to the town via email to inspect and copy public records. Although state law requires that the first hour of work to comply with FOAA requests be provided for free, he claims he was charged and that Poore said that was because each instance was a continuation of a prior request.

Doyle claims he was deprived of his right to honest service, and the defendants acted “in a maliciously, and/or with reckless or callous indifference” to his rights.

As a result, Doyle said he “suffered actual damages, including, without limitations, lost of peace of mind, damage to the reputation in the community, and emotional distress, and costs.”

Portland attorney Mark Franco, who has represented both Falmouth and Scarborough in other cases filed by Doyle, said Doyle’s claim has no merit. Franco has not been retained by Falmouth in this case, but was sent a copy of the complaint by Doyle, who apparently believed Franco was representing the town.

“I think the court’s going to dismiss it,” Franco said.

He said Doyle does not have the authority to file a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court, because he is not a federal prosecutor. He said if a judge looks at the case on its merit, it would also likely be dismissed.

Doyle, a former securities trader who was convicted of fraud in 2002, now drives for Uber and earns $2,345 annually, according to documents he filed at U.S. District Court. He also receives $1,113 a month in Social Security benefits, and owes more than $33,700 on his 2015 Honda Crosstour.

He sued Scarborough last year over demands that he pay $570 for photocopies of about 1,200 emails he requested in a separate case under the state’s Freedom of Access Act. The request involved emails allegedly sent between Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton and three women, according to documents Doyle filed in Cumberland County Superior Court.

He also sued Scarborough for allegedly violating his First Amendment rights. Doyle claimed on three separate occasions the Scarborough Town Council  interrupted him while attempting to speak during Town Council public forums.

Franco said both cases are still pending.

In 2014, Doyle unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Falmouth School Department to provide him with telephone records for former Superintendent of Schools Barbara Powers.

He was provided with redacted records, and he sued in Maine Superior Court for non-redacted information, but was rebuked. He appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision.

Doyle has filed hundreds of FOAA requests in Falmouth and, in 2012, was provided with access to more than 3,100 email addresses of subscribers to the town’s email notification service. He then sent out a mass email to the subscribers.

The breach eventually led lawmakers to propose changes to FOAA to protect email addresses of people who subscribe to government website and email announcement lists.

He is commonly regarded as one of Maine’s most prolific FOAA users, if not the most prolific, at times sending off requests on nearly a daily basis.

Doyle, who twice has run unsuccessfully for the School Board, has also clashed publicly with town and elected officials.

In 2010, he unsuccessfully petitioned to have Cathy Breen, then the Falmouth Town Council chairwoman and currently a state senator, recalled for not following town council rules.

The following year, he filed a complaint against Andrew Kinley, then the vice chairman of the School Board, for allegedly assaulting Doyle during a meeting. The allegation followed a dispute over public seating during the meeting.

No charges were brought against Kinley.

In 2002, Doyle pleaded guilty to misrepresenting and selling unregistered securities. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison with all but 14 months suspended, and was ordered to pay a $16,000 fine. He blamed his conviction on his lawyers who, he claimed, tricked him into twice pleading guilty.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Michael Doyle

0
Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.