April 12, 2013

Suit accuses sheriff, Cumberland County of targeting whistleblower

A sheriff's detective who was investigated by the department claims he was a victim of retaliation.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A veteran Cumberland County sheriff's detective is suing the county, the sheriff and the chief deputy, claiming that he was retaliated against for complaining about an alleged assault on a county jail inmate and for saying he would support an opponent of Sheriff Kevin Joyce.

click image to enlarge

In January 2011 file photo, Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce. A veteran Cumberland County sheriff's detective is suing Joyce, the county and the chief deputy, claiming he was retaliated against for complaining about an alleged assault on an inmate and voicing support for one of Joyce's potential opponents.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Gerard Brady, who has been with the sheriff's office for 33 years, filed the lawsuit Thursday against Cumberland County, Joyce and Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon, seeking unspecified damages.

Brady said the retaliation occurred after he told co-workers that he would support Michael Edes, a Maine State Police sergeant, if he ran against Joyce, who was the county's chief deputy before winning the open election for sheriff in 2010. Edes eventually did not run for the seat.

Prior to the election, the suit says, Brady saw a video of "what he believed was a criminal assault committed by a county corrections officer on a county jail inmate." Whenever Brady brought up the alleged assault after viewing the video, the suit says, co-workers generally kept silent.

The suit does not contain any other details of the alleged assault.

Brady felt Joyce was covering up the alleged assault, the suit says, so it wouldn't become an issue in the race.

Brady also said the retaliation against him was aimed at hurting his private polygraph business. The suit says supervisors alleged that he operated the private business on county time, when he instead claimed to be using an established "unmanaged comp" time program to occasionally leave work an hour early to work at his business.

Brady maintains that he was placed on leave in early February 2012 while the sheriff's department conducted a criminal investigation of him. The results were turned over to the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office and the Maine Attorney General's Office, neither of which chose to prosecute Brady, the suit says. In addition, a referral to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy seeking to have Brady's law enforcement certificate withdrawn was rejected.

Finally, Brady said he was reassigned to the patrol division and stripped of his position as a polygraph operator for the county.

He said he suffered a mental breakdown shortly after his reassignment and has been unable to return to work.

The suit alleges that the county's actions were in violation of the Maine Whistleblower Act and Brady's free speech rights.

It also says sheriff's department officials defamed him and interfered with the operation of his business.

Joyce referred calls to the county's attorney, who did not return a message left Friday afternoon.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:



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