A top official at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office has been fired following an internal investigation that was prompted by an election complaint made by his wife.

Dennis Picard, who had been on paid administrative leave in late October pending results of the internal probe, said he was fired Friday as captain of the law enforcement division of the sheriff’s office. Picard said he intends to fight that decision and has requested a hearing date to appeal that action to the three Kennebec County commissioners.

“I have a great deal of faith in due process and have shared that sentiment with hundreds, if not thousands of inmates and defendants who I have had contact throughout my career,” Picard said via email on Tuesday, confirming his termination from the sheriff’s department.

Neither Kennebec Sheriff Randall Liberty nor Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin would confirm Picard’s termination or its connection to the internal investigation. Liberty previously has refused to specify what Picard was being investigated for, but he has said internal investigations usually involve allegations of violations of department policy.

“I can’t comment on a personnel matter at this time,” Devlin said Monday after speaking with the county’s attorney, Warren Shay, and he reiterated that comment Tuesday.

Devlin said county employees have the right to appeal employment action to the county commissioners.

Picard’s lawyer, Leonard Sharon, said via email Tuesday that he believes his client’s due process rights were violated and that Picard was “stunned by the actions of his superiors.”

“Due process allows that any investigation be done by an unbiased investigator who has no preconceived notion as to how the investigation should turn out,” Sharon said. “Such was not the case here since Al Morin, who indeed himself may be a witness, was the person in charge of conducting the investigation.”

The probe was conducted by Sgt. Alfred Morin of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review. Information gathered during the investigation was to be turned over to Liberty and Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon to determine whether a reprimand was warranted.

The internal investigation into Picard, who was a longtime officer with the Waterville Police Department before joining the county, began after his wife, Sharon, filed a complaint in the race for sheriff in neighboring Somerset County and then tipped off the media about it while using a fake name.

Somerset County Chief Deputy Dale Lancaster won the Nov. 4 election with 60 percent of the vote. His opponent was Waterville police Officer Kris McKenna, who was supported by the Picards, who live in Troy.

Picard’s administrative leave began Oct. 24, the same day the Morning Sentinel reported that his wife filed an unsuccessful federal election complaint against Lancaster, alleging Lancaster had violated the federal Hatch Act by using his office to campaign. Federal authorities determined the complaint had no merit.

Sharon Picard used the fake name “Beth Downs” to send notice of the complaint to Maine newspapers and television stations.

At that time, Devlin said the internal investigation of Dennis Picard was related to the election complaint issue, but that was not the sole focus of the investigation.

Sharon said Picard’s behavior “was done at the suggestion of his superior officers who now seek to distance themselves from Dennis Picard.”

Picard also said he intends to remain in law enforcement, and Sharon said he hopes the county board will absolve Picard of wrongdoing and return him to his job. Picard first joined the county police force on July 15, 2013, with the title of assistant jail administrator.

“I have been committed to law enforcement since the age of 16 when I first tested with the New York City Police Department,” Picard said. “I have enjoyed a lengthy and highly successful career in nearly all facets of law enforcement for over 22 years and have every intention to continue on that path. I fully intend to fight for my job.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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