WALDOBORO — A federal appeals court has ruled that a Standish man’s civil rights lawsuit against the former chief and a former officer of the Waldoboro Police Department can go forward, citing misrepresentation and omissions when the lead investigator secured a search warrant in a felony theft case.

A three-member panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston issued its ruling on Nov. 27 in the suit Scott Jordan Jr. brought against former Chief William Labombarde and former officer Lawrence Hesseltine Jr.

Labombarde is now the school resource officer for the Waldoboro department and Hesseltine is the police chief for the nearby town of Wiscasset. Jordan is an officer at the Cumberland County Jail.

The lawsuit, now in U.S. District Court in Portland, concerns the department’s actions that led to Jordan’s arrest on a felony theft charge in November 2014 for allegedly stealing guns from his father.

The appellate ruling overturned an October 2018 district court ruling that had granted summary judgment in favor of the two officers. The case now goes back to the Portland court where a trial could be held unless a settlement is reached.

The attorney for the officers said that they did nothing wrong.

According to court records, Jordan received power of attorney in May 2014 for his father Scott Jordan Sr. His father, who lived in Waldoboro, suffered from physical and memory problems and later complained to police that his son was improperly disposing of his belongings, and he later rescinded the power of attorney.

But the investigation by Waldoboro police found that the father had wanted his son to have power of attorney and the father’s lawyer had drawn up the paperwork. Police had even talked with the father’s sister, who confirmed that he had wanted the arrangement.

When police initially questioned the son, he said he had removed firearms from his father’s residence because he was concerned that his father was suicidal. The younger Jordan offered to give the guns to police, but officers said they had no legal right to keep them.

When Hesseltine went to a judge to get a search warrant for the son’s home, he did not include information about the origin of the power of attorney or the offer to turn over the guns.

When officers executed the search warrant at the younger Jordan’s Standish home in November 2014, they seized the weapons and arrested Jordan. The alleged theft was classified as a felony because it involved firearms. He was arrested as he was taking his young daughter to school.

Jordan was indicted by a grand jury in Lincoln County in March 2015.

The father died Sept. 1, 2015, and the district attorney’s office dismissed the case a few weeks later.

Jordan then filed the civil lawsuit in 2016, contending that the officers’ actions severely damaged his reputation. Jordan also was suspended from his job as a lieutenant at the Cumberland County Jail and lost his health insurance for a time.

“Due to the wrongful actions of Defendants, Plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer severe mental and emotional injuries and distress that required and/or requires medical treatment,” the lawsuit states.

Jordan was unable to visit his father in his final days because of restrictions in his bail conditions following the arrest.

The appeals court also ruled that Jordan can seek punitive damage against the officers.

Jordan’s attorney, Amy Fairfield of Kennebunk, said her client was able to return to work after the charges were dropped.

The three-judge appeals panel pointed out that the the power of attorney expressly granted the son the authority to take control of his father’s property.

The appeals court said the affidavit gave the false impression that the son prepared the power of attorney paperwork and foisted it on his befuddled father. The judges also pointed out that the son’s actions after getting the power of attorney were consistent with the plan.

“Collectively, correction of the misrepresentation and the two omissions would have painted a fundamentally different picture of Jordan’s actions in trying to assist an episodically confused and often hostile parent. It is not a reasonable picture of a thief in action and, thus, would fall short of establishing probable cause for a search warrant,” the appeals court concluded.

The officer’s attorney, Edward Benjamin Jr. of Portland, said Hesseltine had to act quickly when seeking the search warrant and arrest because the younger son had promised to return the elder Jordan’s truck, but then the vehicle was advertised for sale on Craigslist.

 


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