A judge has ruled against a former New Gloucester deputy treasurer and bookkeeper who sued the town seeking damages related to those jobs.

Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills presided over a two-day bench trial in Portland in December 2015. She filed her ruling on June 7.

Sandra Sacco, 56, who now lives in Sebastian, Fla., is not likely to appeal the decision, her attorney, James Clifford of Kennebunk, said in a statement June 9.

“We are disappointed,” he said, “but respect the court’s decision.”

Town Manager Paul First reacted to Mills’ ruling in a written statement:

“The Court has determined that the town of New Gloucester did not violate the state’s executive session and Freedom of Access laws. The court also affirmed that the town’s action not to reinstate former employee Sandra Sacco was appropriate,” he wrote June 9.

At issue at trial was whether the town had improperly failed to notify Sacco of her right to be present at the Board of Selectmen’s executive session that resulted in the reduction of the hours of her job and failure to provide her with an opportunity to be heard and whether the town improperly used the executive session law.

Mills wrote that she concluded the board that met in executive session had not discussed Sacco nor her job performance, but rather the performance and duties of the town manager and possible changes to job structures in the context of a larger reorganization. Therefore, Mills concluded, there had been no need to provide notice to Sacco and invite her into the closed-door session.

Also at issue at trial was whether the town improperly failed to reinstate Sacco to her job as bookkeeper on Dec. 2 and/or on Dec. 26, 2013.

Mills wrote that after Sacco learned her hours as bookkeeper had been reduced, she took a two-week medical leave on Nov. 12, 2013. Later that month, she had “stormed out of her place of employment,” then resigned by email. Although she cited harassment and a hostile work environment as reasons for her leaving, she never filed a grievance and never rescinded her resignation, Mills wrote.

Then-Town Manager Sumner Field had accepted Sacco’s resignation and told her that her last day of employment would be Nov. 25, 2013. She was paid through the two-week pay period into December and was paid for accrued time, Mills wrote.

In the meantime, the town was poised to reconsider reinstatement of the full-time bookkeeper position on Dec. 2, 2013, and Sacco had been aware of that fact. Yet, Sacco had resigned, anyway, Mills wrote.

Sacco went to the Dec. 2 meeting, but never rescinded her resignation, didn’t request reinstatement and didn’t return to her former job, Mills wrote. Sacco sought reinstatement on Dec. 26 by the board, but was told that the town manager was the one doing the hiring and that she must apply for the position, which she did only after the Dec. 26 “end of business day” deadline for applications, Mills wrote. Sacco sent a letter that night seeking reinstatement, but declined to include a resume and other required application documents.

“Based on these facts, the board was not authorized or required to reinstate petitioner to the bookkeeper position at the Dec. 26 meeting and Mr. Field was not required to consider her untimely and incomplete application for that position,” Mills wrote.

Sacco had worked for the town for nearly 26 years, starting out as deputy clerk and tax collector.

She and her husband, the town’s former fire chief, eventually moved to Florida. She said at trial that moving back to Maine wouldn’t be an “effort” or a “big deal” for her. She testified about the emotional toll the town’s actions had taken on her.

Sacco had appealed the loss of her job and claimed violations of her civil and due process rights, along with damages for back pay, reinstatement of benefits and attorney’s fees.

The town sought to have the case thrown out, but Mills had ruled against the town, paving the way for the December bench trial.

Mark Franco of Portland represented the town at trial.

Christopher Williams can be reached at [email protected]

New Gloucester Town Manager Paul First