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South Portland resident files 'whistleblower' lawsuit against county, sheriff

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South Portland resident files 'whistleblower' lawsuit against county, sheriff

SOUTH PORTLAND — A lawyer representing Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce and Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon said he expects to file a response soon to a lawsuit filed against them April 16.

Gerard Brady, a former Cumberland County Sheriff's Office detective, has accused Joyce and Gagnon of violating the Maine Whistleblower Act.

Brady, a South Portland resident, claims Joyce and Gagnon engaged in retaliatory acts against him, including a criminal investigation and his demotion. In his complaint, Brady said he was a detective for most of his 33 years in the department, and became certified to give polygraph examinations in 2001.

According to the lawsuit, the violations came after Brady said an alleged assault at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland had been covered up, and he actively opposed Joyce's campaign for sheriff in 2010.

Brady seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, including court fees and legal costs. On March 19, the Maine Human Rights Commission issued him a "Right to Sue" letter, which ended an investigation into his MHRC complaint filed Sept. 13, 2012.

Peter Marchesi, a Waterville lawyer representing the defendants, said he is reviewing the suit before filing responses.

Brady filed suit against Cumberland County last month in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn, and an identical  suit against Joyce and Gagnon in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.

Brady, who is represented by Portland attorney Jonathan Goodman, seeks to combine the suits in Androscoggin County. Marchesi said he will file a motion to have both suits heard as one in Cumberland County.

According to his complaint, Brady said he openly supported a potential run for Cumberland County sheriff by Maine State Police Sgt. Michael Edes after Joyce announced in May 2010 he would be running to replace former sheriff and current state Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland.

Edes decided not to run, and Joyce was unopposed in the November 2010 election.

In the months before the election, Brady said he viewed a video of a possible assault by a corrections officer on an inmate at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

In his complaint, Brady said he repeatedly expressed his opinion to coworkers and superior officers about the incident and possible liability faced by Cumberland County. He said he believed there was a cover-up to protect Joyce.

Brady said he continued to express his views after the election, and was warned by a coworker in "mid to late 2011" he "was only going to make trouble for himself."

While administering polygraph tests for the sheriff's office, Brady also had his own polygraph business, Forensic Polygraph Services.  He said he would occasionally leave work early to administer private tests, using a leave program called "unmanaged comp," and had "never been accused of wrongdoing."

On Feb. 8, 2012, Brady said he was placed on administrative leave by Joyce while a criminal investigation was conducted about possible theft of services and overcharging customers for his work at FPS.

The investigative file was eventually forwarded to the Cumberland County district attorney's office and Maine attorney general's office. Both offices declined to press charges for theft of services relating to Brady's work, and members of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Complaint Committee recommended no action be taken against Brady on the same allegations.

Brady said the Sheriff's Office investigation and "false and defamatory statements" made by Joyce and Gagnon ruined his business.

He said he was demoted to a patrol position and removed as a polygraph administrator, allegedly for violating policies not specified in his complaint. He filed a union grievance, and began his new duties, but "began suffering from anxiety and depression ... to the point where it became quickly debilitating."

Brady said he suffered "a mental breakdown" while trying to apprehend a domestic violence suspect about two weeks after his demotion, and has been unable to return to work.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.