September 18, 2013

Former Fairfield police chief pleads guilty to OUI

John Emery of Skowhegan changes his plea in a case that includes few official records on file.

By DOUG HARLOW Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN  — Former Fairfield Police Chief John Emery was ordered to pay a $500 fine and $140 in court fees and to surrender his driver's license for 90 days Wednesday after pleading guilty to operating under the influence.

click image to enlarge

Former Fairfield police Chief John Emery pleaded guilty to operating under the influence Wednesday in Skowhegan District Court.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Emery, 48, previously had pleaded not guilty to the charge brought by police on Dec. 24, 2012, the same day that 15 law enforcement officers were called to the road where he lives in response to an unspecified disturbance.

His lawyer, Walter McKee, of Augusta, said the change of plea was intended to close a case that has dragged on for months.

Emery went on an extended leave of absence after the Christmas Eve incident and resigned in March for personal reasons. He had been in law enforcement for 27 years.

Emery lives on Palmer Road in Skowhegan, where police were called about 3 p.m. Dec. 24 for a report of someone acting strangely or irrationally.

He was charged with OUI a few hours later after a report about his vehicle being off the road, according to McKee.

McKee said Emery was not given a field sobriety test and Skowhegan police did not perform a blood test because of concerns about his medical condition at the time, McKee said.

Emery was tested at the hospital but McKee would not say what the result was, and the information does not appear in Emery's court file.

However, McKee did say that results test showed alcohol content that was greater than the threshold for intoxication, and Emery was charged with OUI.

No affidavits or police reports are in Emery's court file at Skowhegan District Court.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney referred all questions to Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who is supervising the case because it involves a local law enforcement officer.

Stokes said it is typical not to have a probable cause for an arrest affidavit because Emery was not arrested that night.

However, there is a search warrant affidavit involving the Emery case, and that should be available at Skowhegan District Court, he said Wednesday.

Clerks at District Court said Wednesday afternoon said there is no search warrant affidavit on file.

Stokes also said there are numerous police reports about the incident, but none appears in Emery's case file.

David Sanders, a Livermore Falls attorney who has been vice chairman of Maine's Board of the Overseers of the Bar, said police reports are protected by state law, meaning they do not have to be released to the public unless the district attorney agrees to do so.

Stokes also said witnesses reported hearing gunshots in connection with the police visit to Emery's home, but there is no police report on file to confirm that.

Skowhegan police so far have refused to release reports that detail events that led to the charge against Emery.

The Morning Sentinel on Wednesday submitted to Skowhegan Police Chief Ted Blais a new Freedom of Access Act request for copies of all police reports and court affidavits in connection to the Emery case.

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

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