Gorham police officers busted an underage drinking party in October attended by as many as 50 people at the Sanborn Street home of Town Council Chairman Matthew Robinson.

Robinson, who in the past railed on two councilors for drunk driving arrests, said Wednesday he and his wife were not present and that alcohol was not authorized for a party his teenage daughter was allowed to host Oct. 10 at home. It is unknown who provided the liquor.

“Nobody drove drunk,” Robinson, 48, said about the incident.

Police Chief Daniel Jones said Wednesday that two Gorham officers responded to a reported underage drinking party at 24 Sanborn St.

“They found underage drinking,” Jones said.

Police issued summonses to three Gorham teenagers, including Robinson’s daughter, Samantha Robinson, 19. She was fined $250 Tuesday after pleading guilty to an offense of a minor possessing liquor, according to Cumberland County Court documents that also reveals another charge was dismissed.

Jones said officers also issued summonses to Tyler Bernaiche, 18, of 205 Burnham Road in Gorham and Dylan Truong, 19, of 19 Straw Road in Gorham. Bernaiche and Truong were cited for possession of alcohol by a minor by consumption. The summonses were issued at the incident by Benjamin Moreland, a Gorham sergeant, at 11:05 p.m.

Tamara Getchell, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s office, said Wednesday that Truong had an arraignment on Nov. 18 for possession of liquor by a minor and has a court date in February. She had no additional information on Bernaiche.

Jones said there is no indication in the police report as to who supplied the alcohol.

Robinson said his daughter had permission to have a few former high school friends over.

“When we authorized the party, there was no alcohol,” Robinson said.

Robinson said 40 or 50 kids showed up.

“It got on social media and escalated from there,” Robinson said.

She made a mistake, paid her fine and learned a lesson, Robinson said.

Robinson, who also said there were kids smoking in his house, said his daughter did not drink.

“She was not intoxicated,” he said.

Robinson said Wednesday that he and his wife were spending time in Portland when police contacted them that night.

Jones said the Robinsons were “cooperative throughout.”

Police have closed the case.

“It’s over as far as we’re concerned,” Jones said.

Samantha Robinson, who graduated in 2014 from Gorham High School, where she was a standout athlete and an honor roll student, was issued two summonses on Oct. 10. One charging her for allowing a minor to possess or consume liquor was dismissed in Cumberland County Court because she had pleaded to the minor charge of possessing liquor, according to court records.

Robinson is a veteran town councilor who fellow councilors unanimously elected chairman in November. Robinson led a crusade to change the town’s charter to define “moral turpitude” after two Gorham town councilors were convicted of operating under the influence.

The issue first arose after then-Town Councilor Suzanne Phillips, now a School Committee member, pleaded guilty of operating under the influence in 2012. The matter fueled running council debates and re-flared in 2014 when Councilor Benjamin Hartwell also pleaded guilty to operating under the influence.

Robinson spearheaded a drive to place a definition of what constitutes “moral turpitude” on a town ballot, and voters convincingly passed the measure in November 2014. Now, under the charter amendment, a town councilor would be booted from the board for violating the “moral turpitude” clause for a conviction of murder, or a class A, B, C, or D crime, which includes drunk driving.

“Providing a place for underage drinking is a Class D crime if there are minors present,” Hartwell said in a statement he issued Wednesday. “While charges may not have been filed against the homeowner due to claiming not to have knowledge alcohol would be involved, this should serve as an example of why you don’t give someone permission to have a party with a few friends in your home when you aren’t present.”

Hartwell also said that Robinson had not notified the Town Council about the underage drinking incident in his home.

Phillips, who also issued a statement Wednesday, said that during her situation, “I was told by the long-standing councilors that lack of disclosure was a big problem because being an elected official you are held to a higher standard by the voters. They explained that lack of disclosure causes a perceived conflict, meaning the public’s perception of the matter. It also puts the whole council in a bad position, they said. If that is true then it has happened again.”

Gorham politics has been contentious in recent years. In the November 2014 election, Phillips, who did not seek re-election to the Town Council, ran for the School Committee and was elected. Phillips filed a complaint with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices about Robinson’s involvement with the so-called OUI signs that opposed Phillips’ candidacy.

The campaign signs posted around town opposing Phillips read, “No Phillips, arrested for OUI, convicted of OUI.” The disclosure on the signs read, “Paid for by Keep Our Kids Safe From Drunk Drivers.”

Robinson was fined $25 because the signs did not include sufficient disclosure information.

The underage drinking incident at Robinson’s home will likely trigger more Town Council debate.

“On the topic of Mr. Robinson bringing repeated attention to my situation for over two years, I would say that since everyone knows what the current chair thinks of this type of situation when it involves other people, now we can find out what he thinks when it’s family,” Phillips said.

Matthew Robinson


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