SKOWHEGAN — Newly reelected Registrar of Deeds Diane Godin, who remains on unpaid leave, prompted a police response Dec. 4 after locking herself in her office and refusing to come out after county officials had barred her from the building, according to newly disclosed details released Tuesday by authorities.

The new details suggest that Godin disagreed with a decision by county commissioners to prohibit her from the building – made less than a month after she was reelected – over allegations that she was being rude and angering the public.

Somerset County officials considered filing a criminal trespass complaint against Godin in connection with the Dec. 4 incident, but decided not to do so when she was talked out of the office by the Skowhegan police chief and agreed to leave the county courthouse building. The county changed all of its door locks following the incident.

Godin, who could not be reached Tuesday by phone or at her home for comment, is scheduled to attend a closed door meeting Jan. 21 with county commissioners to renegotiate her contract, according to County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi.

DiBlasi and other county officials have previously refused to comment on why Godin was placed on leave, though Commissioner Robin Frost said the personnel issue was related to Godin “showing up for work … she hasn’t been coming at all for normal business hours.”

On Tuesday, Frost said Godin was not wanted in the county courthouse until after the January meeting because county commissioners received complaints about her behavior from lawyers using the registry for their work and from members of the public using the registry for research. The department is responsible for recording and keeping track of papers that show evidence of land ownership, mortgages and liens on real estate and other property.

Godin “refused to come to the meeting for the renewal of her contract and because of personnel issues,” Frost said of the move barring Godin from the county building. “She was actually not just not fulfilling her responsibilities, she was actually breaking HR laws by being impossible, derogatory … there were many, many complaints from the general public about her behavior.”

Frost, whose term as a county commissioner ends Wednesday, said Godin exceeded the number of vacation and sick days allowed in her contract, resulting in her “being slightly overpaid.”

Last year, Godin was paid $40,800 plus benefits, for a total package of $56,029.

Godin, 52, was asked to leave the Somerset County courthouse the morning of Dec. 4 by DiBlasi, according to Skowhegan Police Chief Ted Blais. Godin would not immediately leave and locked herself in her office, refusing to come out and bringing local police to the courthouse, Blais said.

Blais said he was on his way into town about 8 a.m. that day when he heard police radio traffic indicating a problem at the courthouse.

“I heard the call to the county court building for an unwanted person to be removed,” Blais said. “I went over there and the complaining party was the county administrator, Dawn DiBlasi.”

Blais said he entered the courthouse building and DiBlasi pointed in the direction of the registry office and said, “She’s not supposed to be here, she needs to leave,” referring to Godin.

“She was pointing toward the office and the door was shut, and Diane was in her office with the door shut and locked and wouldn’t come out,” Blais said. “According to the county administrator, there was a meeting the night before, and it was determined that she was not to be allowed in the building by the county commissioners.”

Blais said the deputy police chief and other police officers arrived as well. Blais knocked on Godin’s door and she let him in, telling the police chief that she had been duly elected to the post and that it was not right for county officials to keep her from the building.

“In the heat of the moment, they were wound up. Dawn was wound up, and she was wound up and they were pretty verbal for a couple of minutes there,” Blais said. “Then we sat in the office, she calmed down and said, ‘Fine, if they don’t want me here, I’m going to go,’ and she left.”

DiBlasi said Tuesday she could not comment further because it is a confidential personnel matter.

In an email Tuesday, County Commissioner Phil Roy said he thought the action against Godin was legal, but did not cite any state laws that might apply.

State law says that the “removal” of a registrar of deeds can only be done by the Superior Court acting on a filing by the Attorney General or a grand jury and entering a judgment for removal if the person is “found guilty of misconduct in his office or incapable of discharging its duties.” So far, Godin has not been removed from office.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said Tuesday his organization does not deal with county government and referred questions to the Attorney General’s office. Rose Smith, assistant to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, said Tuesday she had conferred with Mills and with an assistant attorney general and decided that the case should be handled by the county commissioners and the county’s lawyer.

“Other than that, we have no comment at this time,” Smith said.

DiBlasi confirmed that an attorney with the law firm of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry of Portland was handling the case, but would not say which of the dozen or more lawyers in the firm was dealing with the Godin matter. A call to the law firm Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said earlier this month that she was aware of Godin’s situation but would not talk about specifics. The investigation is being handled by the county and Maloney said she is not conducting an investigation. No formal complaint against Godin has been filed by the county, she said.

Laura Price, who is the deputy registrar of deeds and ran against Godin in the November election, and other employees in the registry will assume Godin’s duties in the meantime, according to DiBlasi.

Godin is herself a former deputy registrar who was appointed to the top post in 2001 after her predecessor, Marguerite Libby, retired in 2001. Godin was elected on her own the following year and defeated opponents to win new terms in 2006, 2010 and again in November.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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