Friday, March 7, 2014
By Betty Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Four people face criminal charges stemming from the collection of contributions to help former Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Richardson qualify for public campaign funding.
The state Attorney General's Office filed complaints Monday against William Moore, 45, of Brunswick; Denise Altvater, 51, of Perry; Lori A. Levesque, 46, of Fort Kent; and Joseph Pickering, 54, of South Portland, charging them with multiple counts of unsworn falsification, a misdemeanor.
The four are charged with falsifying "Receipt and Acknowledgement" forms certifying that they collected $5 contributions to Richardson, that the collections were made in their presence, and that the contributions were made to them without anything of value in return.
The charges say the intent was to deceive the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
Richardson withdrew from the Democratic gubernatorial primary in late April, when the commission denied his application for public campaign funds after it was revealed that several campaign workers had broken rules when they gathered contributions.
At the time, Richardson acknowledged that some of his volunteers "cut corners" in gathering contributions. The Attorney General's Office then began a criminal investigation.
Candidates for governor need at least 3,250 donations of $5 each to qualify for public financing.
Moore said he intends to hire a lawyer and fight the charges. He faces six counts of unsworn falsification from March 2 to March 28 in Brunswick.
Attempts to reach Altvater, Levesque and Pickering were unsuccessful Monday night.
"I don't feel I've done anything wrong," Moore said. "The clean elections process with regard to this form is flawed. It was an honest mistake on my behalf. I should have read the form before signing."
Moore said he collected fewer than 20 signatures for Richardson, and that a friend of his collected about 10. Moore said he took them all to Richardson's headquarters and a worker at the campaign office told him he had to sign them.
"I believed I had to sign them as the person submitting them to the campaign," Moore said.
n The complaint against Altvater charges her with three counts of unsworn falsification, all on March 31 in Point Pleasant, in Washington County.
Altvater, coordinator of the Wabanaki Youth Program of the American Friends Service Committee in Perry, has served as chair of the Sipayik Criminal Justice Commission and worked with the state addressing abuse against Passamaquoddy tribal members.
She is also listed on the state's Board of Corrections website as a member of the Maine State Prison Board of Visitors. She is also listed as a member of the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission, which mediates tribal-state issues.
n The complaint against Levesque charges her with eight counts of unsworn falsification from March 22 to March 26, all in Fort Kent.
n The complaint against Pickering charges him with 16 counts of unsworn falsification from March 3 to March 27, all in Brunswick.
Published reports list Pickering as vice president of the board of Maine Modern Medicines, which applied last month to operate a medical marijuana dispensary. Information with that application indicates he worked in advertising for The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram for 30 years and now owns and operates an advertising agency.
In late May, MaineToday Media Inc. – owner of the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and the Press Herald/Telegram – sued the ethics commission seeking documents received in Richardson's effort to gain public funding.
The commission refused to release the records, contending they are confidential by statute because they were turned over to the Attorney General's Office as part of its investigation.
A hearing in that case is set for Sept. 22 in Kennebec County District Court.