Busy man, that Dr. Mark Flomenbaum.

When he’s not presiding over the investigations of 3,000 deaths a year as Maine’s chief medical examiner – or derailing a murder trial with a last-minute change of mind on a crucial piece of evidence – he’s answering the phone for Lincoln Forensics LLC, a private consulting firm he’s owned and operated since 2012.

Friday morning, he picked up on the second ring.

“I do private work on cases that have nothing to do with Maine on occasional weekends and nights and I provide consulting,” Flomenbaum said after confirming that, yes, he owns Lincoln Forensics, and, no, he’s not supposed to be talking to the media right now.

“The timing is really not good,” he said.

He’s got that right.


Flomenbaum burst into the news last week when, just before taking the witness stand, he did an about-face on his earlier examination of the shooting death of Alicia Gaston. Based on an evidence photo he’d just seen for the first time, Flomenbaum said he now believes the fatal shot could have come from a vastly different angle than the one he’d previously estimated.

It was a stunning development in the murder trial of Noah Gaston, charged with killing his wife with a shotgun at their home in Windham on Jan. 14, 2016.

Not surprisingly, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy declared a mistrial.

Murphy also, according to a defense attorney, gave Flomenbaum 30 days to explain his change of opinion. His response will be pivotal – the revised angle of fire plays directly into Noah Gaston’s claim that he thought an intruder, not his wife, was coming up the stairway inside their home when he discharged his weapon.

All of which places Flomenbaum under the microscope – and not for the first time.

As the Portland Press Herald reported Friday, Flomenbaum came to Maine in 2013 after being fired as chief medical examiner in Massachusetts in 2007. Then-Gov. Deval Patrick based that dismissal on a report that found that state’s medical examiner’s office “on the verge of collapse” under Flomenbaum’s management.


Since his arrival here, first as deputy and then as chief medical examiner, Flomenbaum’s competency has been called into question unsuccessfully by at least three murder defendants in Maine. Two of them pointed not only to his tenure in Massachusetts, where his office actually lost a corpse, but also a 2016 child murder trial in Connecticut in which Flomenbaum’s testimony as an expert witness hired by the defense was found by the judge to be not credible.

Which brings us back to Lincoln Forensics.

Registered as a limited liability company in Massachusetts since 2012, the firm’s address is a $1.6 million residential property in Lincoln, Mass. Municipal records there list Flomenbaum as the current owner of the four-bedroom, four-bath dwelling on 2.75 acres.

According to its website (www.lincolnforensics.com), Lincoln Forensics “offers Forensic Pathology consultation and educational services to members of the legal, public health, public policy, law enforcement, medical and forensic science communities. Expert witness testimony is available in Forensic Pathology and hospital based Pathology.”

The site lists 18 different available services, ranging from “advice to counsel at any stage of investigation or litigation” to “wound interpretation” and “autopsy interpretation.”

Under “Who We Are,” the website lists only Flomenbaum. His biography includes references to his past work in Massachusetts, New York and California. But there’s no mention of Maine.


During our brief telephone conversation Friday, I asked Flomenbaum if it’s appropriate for Maine’s full-time medical examiner to be running a business on the side. Given his caseload here, I said, one would think he has plenty to keep him busy in Augusta.

“I’m very busy with my job in Maine,” Flomenbaum replied. “I don’t know any other medical examiner who does not do what I’m doing, so this is not at all above and beyond. In fact, I do such a small amount of it, it’s not an issue that I want to be discussing now.”

In an interview Saturday, Dr. Jonathan Arden, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said Flomenbaum is right when he says outside work is commonplace throughout their profession.

“I’m not sure I would go with 100 percent,” Arden said, referring to Flomenbaum’s suggestion that all medical examiners moonlight. But, he added, “it is a very common practice among medical examiners in this country to do outside consulting.”

The rule of thumb is to work far enough from one’s public jurisdiction to avoid any conflicts of interest, Arden said. At the same time, he added, the private work should never get in the way of one’s day job.

“You have to be able to devote your time to complete your government work 100 percent,” Arden said. “You can’t compromise your government work by doing private consulting.”


Arden, who once worked at the same time as Flomenbaum in the New York City medical examiner’s office, said outside work can actually benefit a medical examiner by providing opportunities to “look at and work on cases from a different perspective.”

He also noted that medical examiners are typically underpaid when compared with private-practice physicians, prompting many to take on outside work to supplement their income. Here in Maine, Flomenbaum earned $259,437.23 in salary and benefits in 2017, the most recent yearly data available.

“That is not a bad salary,” Arden said. “But there are more and more medical examiner jobs, not chief medical examiner, approaching that level.”

Flomenbaum’s outside work via Lincoln Forensics came as news to Gov. Janet Mills, under whom Flomenbaum worked while Mills was attorney general.

In an email Friday, Mills’ spokesman Scott Ogden wrote, “Governor Mills was not aware of Dr. Flomenbaum’s outside employment during her time as Attorney General, and she has asked the Attorney General’s Office … to determine the scope of his outside employment and whether it presents a conflict of interest or any other issues.”

A short time later, Ogden sent another email: “While the Governor wasn’t aware when she was Attorney General, it just came to our attention that the criminal division knew about it.”


Interesting. As the AG’s office hits the restart button on the Gaston murder trial, it can’t be helpful for prosecutors to know that their medical examiner is but two rings away from a side job in the private sector.

Halfway through our chat Friday, after I told Flomenbaum that I wasn’t calling about the Gaston murder case but instead wanted to talk about his private work under the banner of Lincoln Forensics, he asked, “Do you have a case to discuss?”

I’m happy to report that I don’t.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how often he asks that question.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.