The Maine Warden Service is again disputing a Portland Press Herald story that raised questions about the agency’s law enforcement tactics.

It also has served a “cease of harassment notice” on Richard Sanborn Sr. for allegedly making harassing phone calls to a game warden. Sanborn, a hunter from Parsonsfield, talked to the paper for a story published Friday about an undercover operation run by the warden service in York County.

The wardens’ statement, sent Friday night under the heading “Maine people see through media’s attempt to smear wardens,” followed the article in Friday’s newspaper that said an undercover warden has been accused by the targets of three investigations of drinking excessively in their presence, plying suspected illegal hunters with alcohol, urging them to commit crimes and committing some of the same crimes for which the subjects of the investigation were later prosecuted. Most of the accused hunters were convicted.

The response issued by Cpl. John MacDonald, the spokesman for the Maine Warden Service, said Friday’s article was “another one-sided story challenging the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife,” of which the warden service is a part.

He accused the newspaper of “surgically” picking words from a Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling in another case that found that the undercover warden’s actions were “repugnant,” but “not so outrageous” that charges against Licensed Maine Guide Lawrence Perry of Fryeburg should be dismissed.

The quotation from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court was referenced early in Friday’s story and ran in its entirety in a section about Perry’s prosecution.


MacDonald said other parts of the opinion should have been included, such as a finding that the warden was trying to infiltrate himself with the targets of the investigation and that the warden, William Livezey, testified that he tried to avoid committing crimes himself.

Sanborn, one of the hunters who recounted his experiences in Friday’s article, said Livezey drank regularly and sometimes heavily with the hunters who were later convicted. MacDonald said Sanborn was served a “cease of harassment notice” by Maine State Police Friday “for repeated harassing phone calls to the game warden.” MacDonald did not name the warden, but the statement appeared to refer to Livezey.

Sanborn reported to the York County Jail in Alfred at 8:30 a.m. Friday to begin serving a 22-day sentence for his violations of game laws. MacDonald said the notice was served on Sanborn Friday afternoon by the Maine State Police. It was unclear whether that occurred at the jail.

It wasn’t possible to contact Sanborn because inmates are only allowed to make phone calls when they are out of their cells and must make collect calls, a jail officer said.

An email to MacDonald seeking information on when the alleged calls began and how many were made, as well as the cease of harassment notice served on Sanborn, was not returned Friday night. Stephen McCausland, the spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a phone interview that he had no information about the notice and how or when it was served on Sanborn,

The newspaper first reported about allegations of improper activities of undercover wardens Sunday. That story dealt with a two-year undercover investigation in northern Maine that culminated in 2014 with a large-scale raid that was filmed for the “North Woods Law” television series that focuses on the wardens’ work. The article was reported and written by Staff Writer Colin Woodard. Friday’s article was reported and written by Staff Writer Scott Dolan.


MacDonald accused the paper of having “an agenda,” and said the articles were “a result of the ongoing character assault by the Portland Press Herald and Colin Woodard.”

“The career of a game warden is dangerous,” MacDonald said. “We conserve natural resources and we save lives. Maine people are tuned in, nearly 400,000 of us on our social media alone.”

MacDonald’s statement Friday night also mentioned that as of 5 p.m. Friday the Press Herald had not made “a headline” about two police officers being shot in New Hampshire early that day.

“It would seem they would rather focus on their attempts to smear rather than report on newsworthy events,” MacDonald said.

The story about the shootings was posted to the newspaper’s website at 8:03 a.m. Friday.


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