AUGUSTA — Operation Red Meat, the undercover investigation that culminated in the February 2014 raids in Allagash, was hardly the first to generate controversy for the Maine Warden Service:

• In 2003, the undercover warden in the 2014 Allagash investigation, Bill Livezey, was involved in a controversial case targeting Lawrence Perry, a respected master guide from Fryeburg with a clean record.

As in Allagash, Livezey embedded himself with his target, staying as a guest at his house when Perry was out of town, during which time he enticed other individuals to commit wildlife crimes. Perry and others were arrested by a SWAT-like team, what he remembers as “a riot squad and men in ninja suits with red (laser sight) dots on me.”

Perry faced 29 charges, including night hunting, shooting at a bobcat out of season and assisting a client in a hunting violation. At trial, Perry’s attorney argued that Livezey had “created numerous instances of crime … participated in the criminal activity, and debased the integrity of Maine law enforcement in the process.”

The jury found Perry not guilty of all but nine charges, most of them minor, including one for driving a bear shot by Livezey to the nearest tagging station using a road that briefly passed through New Hampshire. The most serious conviction was for briefly possessing a deer illegally shot before sunrise by another man. Livezey, who was driving when the doe was spotted and put the car in park to allow the truck’s doors to unlock, testified that Perry told the man to shoot the deer; Perry testified he told his companions not to shoot and that it was Livezey yelling to fire.

“He lied. Everything he said was a lie,” Perry says of Livezey. “That’s how they train these guys.”


(Livezey did not respond to requests for an interview sent by both e-mail and U.S. mail. The warden service said he would not answer any questions.)

The judge imposed the lightest possible sentence – three days – while noting the overwhelming support of ministers, community members and hunters who had testified to Perry’s character and integrity. A state appeals court threw out three of the nine convictions, but justices said they were “not convinced that the warden’s conduct was so outrageous that due process requires a dismissal of all charges.” A federal judge also declined to intervene after finding no legal precedent for “entrapment-like conduct” to “give rise to a constitutional claim.”

A few months later, the service named Livezey “warden of the year” for his work on the case.

• In 2004, a sting operation against four smelt fishermen backfired when prosecutors learned one of three undercover wardens allegedly passed alcohol around to fishermen, including some minors, at an ice shack on Dexter’s Lake Wassookeag.

The Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife commissioner at the time, Roland Martin, ordered an investigation, but ultimately the covert agent was neither fired nor publicly identified, and the warden service refused to say whether he had been disciplined. The wardens subsequently announced they had updated their policies to prohibit undercover agents from the illegal use of alcohol or providing beverages to any person other than another undercover officer.

• The following year, the wardens made national news for the zealous prosecution of Grand Lake Stream guide Randy Spencer for allegedly allowing his client – in reality an undercover game warden – to keep an extra bass.


Spencer testified that he caught and kept one fish, and his client two fish, an outcome in compliance with the state limit of two per person. Spencer built a fire, and the two men ate the fish for lunch.

The agent, Albert St. Saviour, claimed all three fish were his.

The wardens charged Spencer with allowing the client to keep an extra fish, a misdemeanor carrying a $50 penalty and the likely loss of his guide’s license and livelihood. Spencer, arguing he did nothing wrong, went to court. When the initial criminal trial ended in a hung jury, the warden service pressed on with a second civil complaint charging Spencer with not reporting his client’s alleged violation, which also went to trial.

The spectacle of the wardens going to these lengths on minor violations for which the evidence had been eaten became national news, with lengthy stories by The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press, and segments on CNBC and Bloomberg Television. At the second trial, Judge John Romei found Spencer not guilty, essentially because he found the guide’s testimony more compelling than St. Saviour’s.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. on May 27, 2016 to correct Randy Spencer’s name.

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