January 20, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Plunge bra fails to rise to jail fund standards

(Continued from page 1)

"Given the nature of the items of clothing purchased," Marchesi concluded, "I found (Richardson's) explanation to be unpersuasive."

So, unanimously, did the county commissioners.

There is, to be sure, more to this than Richardson's eye-catching list of unmentionables.

Marchesi's report cites a long list of other "improper" expenditures, ranging from smartphones for Richardson and Gross to books and DVDs that Richardson returned to the jail in a large box and a shopping bag within hours of her interview with Marchesi. (It was all caught on tape by the jail's video surveillance cameras.)

What's more, this thing is far from over.

Gross, deemed by Marchesi to have improperly used the fund, but (unlike Richardson) not for significant "personal gain for him," gets his termination hearing Thursday.

And after that, the county commissioners will invite in the Maine Attorney General's Office to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the entire mess and determine whether anything criminal took place.

Then there's the back story: Richardson's attorney, Jeffrey Davidson of Machias, got into hot water himself with the sheriff's office in 2011 after he asked a female officer, just before he was to question her in a criminal case, "Have you ever been raped?"

When the officer responded that it was a personal question, Davidson replied, "Well, get ready because today will be your first time."

Davidson, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview Friday, got a reprimand from the Maine Board of Overseers for that one.

"He and the sheriff are not buds," observed Jeffrey Toothaker, Gross's attorney, in an interview Friday.

Toothaker's other noteworthy comment on the matter at hand: "If the bra fits, you must acquit!"

Which brings us back to Richardson, who told the assembled media after Thursday's marathon hearing that she wasn't surprised she lost her job, has no plans to appeal and is less than optimistic about her future as she tries to pick up the pieces in her small town of East Machias.

"I live in a small community," Richardson noted. "And I think I will have a hard time getting a fair shake."

Maybe she should try on a new metaphor.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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