State House Bureau

Betty Lamoreau, one of the state officials who was involved in the no-bid sale of property in Thomaston to the state prison warden, is retiring after 31 years in state government. Her last day on the job will be Thursday.

Lamoreau, 59, acting director of the Bureau of General Services, came under fire for her decision in June to sign off on the sale of 5 acres and three houses to the warden of the Maine State Prison.

The property was never marketed to the public, and the sale was later declared void by the state attorney general because it violated a law that prohibits state employees from having a financial interest in state contracts.

The property on Ship Street Circle was sold to Warden Patricia Barnhart for $175,000, well below its assessed tax value of $512,263. In September, the state bought the property back, paying $175,000 for the property and $2,000 to reimburse Barnhart for closing costs.

Lamoreau, who became acting director in March, inherited a real estate transaction that had been put together by her predecessor, Chip Gavin, who left the bureau in February, said Lamoreau’s boss, Sawin Millett, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

“When she came in, the deal was pretty well done,” he said. “I think Betty has gotten a bad rap.”

Millett also signed off on the sale, and he said he has taken full responsibility for it.

Gov. Paul LePage has issued an executive order requiring the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to come up with guidelines for sales of state properties. Those guidelines should be ready in a few weeks, Lamoreau said.

Lamoreau gave Millett two months’ notice of her decision to retire. Millett said he will soon name an acting director, and he expects to begin interviewing people next week for a permanent replacement.

Lamoreau said her husband, Michael Lamoreau, a former auditor with the Department of Health and Human Services, retired this summer and she wants to spend more time with him.

Before serving as acting director, she was director of Maine’s Division of Purchases, responsible for the administrative review and authorization of all non-construction contracts for professional services and the purchase of goods and services required by all state agencies.

“I am retiring because I am ready to move along,” she said. “I’ve had 31 years in at the state’s service. That’s 31 years I have been proud of, and most people feel that I have a right to be.”

Tom Bell — 791-6369

[email protected]

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