Bob Bailey, a man who described himself in a Maine Sunday Telegram article as a former Maine state trooper who progressed from prescription painkillers to heroin addiction, was never a trooper, according to state officials and public records.

Questions about Bailey’s claim began surfacing after the story was published Sunday. Bailey, who lives in Rumford, did not initially respond to repeated telephone calls, text messages and emails left for him Sunday and Monday, but later Monday he admitted that he had fabricated his credentials. Family members said Monday he has been falsely claiming to be a former trooper for years.

A review of certification records at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy shows that Robert L. Bailey worked for the Paris Police Department in Oxford County from Oct. 27, 1996, to Aug. 8, 1997. The records also show he worked for the Maine Correctional Center in Windham from Oct. 2, 2000, to June 14, 2003.

Bailey also had told a reporter for the story that he volunteered at Ground Zero in Manhattan after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, saying he was injured when he fell from a 30-foot pile of debris. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram could not verify that claim, but Bailey continued to assert Monday that it was true.

The newspaper did try to confirm Bailey’s employment history before publishing the story. The reporter, Joe Lawlor, asked Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland on Friday to confirm that Bailey had worked for the department, explaining that the story would include material about Bailey’s struggles with prescription opioids.

McCausland responded in an email: “I don’t remember the name. … There is no one around today I can bounce that off.”

The newspaper did not pursue the matter further – but should have, said Executive Editor Cliff Schechtman.

“We failed to follow our reporting and editing standards,” he said. “Readers rely on us to verify everything we publish, and in this case we didn’t. We are reviewing our reporting and editing practices to ensure this incident is never repeated.”

On Monday, Col. Robert Williams, chief of the state police, said Bailey has had no connection with the agency.

“The story has impugned the reputation of the Maine State Police, the 300 men and women who currently serve, and the hundreds of retired troopers who have worn the badge honorably and proudly since 1925, when the state police became a separate agency,” Williams said. He said troopers, and particularly retirees, were irate at the fabrication.

“Our reputation and our integrity mean a lot in the state of Maine,” he said. “We work hard to do the right thing. We occasionally fall down. We have a reputation that is relatively strong and we have integrity. This is a guy that obviously does not have any of those core values.”

Sunday’s story described how many of Maine’s heroin addicts descended into addiction after first being prescribed painkillers, and then becoming addicted to the medication. When they could no longer get the painkillers, they switched to less expensive and easily available heroin. Bailey was one of three recovering addicts included in the story, but was the most prominent.

After failing to respond to several messages seeking comment, Bailey called the Press Herald on Monday afternoon to apologize and admit he had never been a state trooper.

“I’m deeply sorry. I apologize,” Bailey said. “I kind of got caught up in the moment.”

Bailey said he believed that if he claimed he was a trooper with a long and distinguished career, his addiction story would generate more sympathy from readers.

But it wasn’t the first time Bailey publicly claimed to be a state trooper. He had been perpetuating the hoax for years.

In 2007, Bailey sued the state Department of Health and Human Services over his treatment while in rehabilitation. In a 2008 ruling against Bailey, Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar referred to Bailey as a 45-year-old former Maine state trooper in a section of the decision labeled “Facts.”

Bailey’s profile on Google+, a social media platform, listed him as a “retired/disabled Maine state trooper” and included a photograph that appears to show Bailey in a trooper’s uniform posing alongside a child whose face is obscured. The caption reads: “Trooper Bailey Barbara Bush Childrens Hospital (sic).”

The photograph was removed from the site Monday, and the profile was changed to describe Bailey as a “retired/disabled cop.”

Jessica Bailey, his 26-year-old daughter, said last week that she believed her father was a former state trooper. She said over the weekend that he often spoke about his career in law enforcement, his later work as a corrections officer and about volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11. But when confronted Monday by the Press Herald, Jessica Bailey admitted that she had not been truthful and knew her father had not been a state trooper.

James Bailey, 21, who said he’s Bob Bailey’s son, said his father has been lying for many years about being a former trooper.

“I believe he wants to be recognized as an important person,” said James Bailey, who said he has been estranged from his father for most of his life. He said that like his sister, he also doubts the Ground Zero story.

“No one can explain why he does the things that he does,” James Bailey said. “I don’t know that he’s ever left the state of Maine. Maybe he’s been to New Hampshire.”

Bob Bailey’s criminal history includes two convictions, according to the Maine State Bureau of Identification.

He was given a 24-hour suspended sentence for violating bail conditions in 2006; the records do not indicate why he had been held on bail. In 1982, he was found guilty of criminal trespass and sentenced to six months in jail, but ordered to serve only 60 days with the remainder suspended.

Bailey’s driving record since 2004 includes three suspensions for driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxicants, at least seven charges of driving with a suspended license – several for failing to pay fines – and one charge of driving after his license was revoked.

Maine Criminal Justice Academy records show that Bailey, who was born in 1962, attended the 100-hour pre-service law enforcement course for reserve officers in 1995. A reserve officer who has completed the course can work as a full-time officer for up to a year before he or she must complete the basic law enforcement course, which at the time lasted 12 weeks.

Bailey worked 9½ months for the Paris Police Department. Records show he was hired as a part-time officer, then promoted to patrolman with the intention of having him attend the basic law enforcement school, said the department’s current chief, Jeffrey Lange. However, in 1997 Bailey was the subject of an internal investigation by the department, after which he resigned.

Lange said he did not know the reason for the investigation, and that, because it did not result in discipline recorded in Bailey’s file, it would not be available to the public.

Bailey also attended the basic two-week corrections officer school in November 2001 while he was employed by the state Department of Corrections, according to Criminal Justice Academy records. That would have been around the time Bailey says he fell from a pile of rubble at Ground Zero.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman