SKOWHEGAN — Somerset County Registrar of Deeds Diane Godin told county officials Wednesday that they are no longer authorized to use her name on official documents or transactions, intensifying an already bitter showdown that has pitted the county government against the registrar.

Following the email, a digital stamp bearing Godin’s name was removed Wednesday from printed real estate transfer documents and replaced with Deputy Registrar Laura Price’s name, County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said.

Price has all the authority needed to conduct the business of the Registry of Deeds, DiBlasi said.

Godin wrote in an email to county officials and the Morning Sentinel on Wednesday, “Somerset County is no longer allowed to use my name on Registry of Deeds recordings. You have not allowed me to work as Maine law requires and you refuse to negotiate a real contract. This is not a resignation. I am the Register of Deeds.”

The email is the latest salvo in the battle between Godin, who was re-elected in November, and county officials, who say she was rude to customers, bullied and intimidated registry employees and frequently did not show up for work. County officials say Godin created a hostile work environment and a climate of harassment that was noticed by county workers and members of the public and stripped her of most registrar responsibilities.

After conflicts escalated in December, Godin’s hours were reduced to one day a month by the county commissioners, but she has yet to appear. Price has been running the office in her absence.


Godin also wrote that the county is using money from the registry surcharge account without her authorization. A $3 surcharge is imposed on each document transfer to be used for restoration and preservation of real estate documents.

DiBlasi said county officials do not need Godin’s authorization to accept and use surcharge money.

“By law — by statute — when Diane is not here, her deputy steps into her shoes,” DiBlasi said. “Any time that Diane is not here, Laura is, by law, the registrar of deeds because she is the deputy. Laura has every right to do whatever she has to do with the surcharge money in her absence.

“Diane is no longer a department head. She’s no longer in charge of the Registry of Deeds. She has no authority anymore.”

DiBlasi, who described Godin’s claims as baseless, said the county will not respond to the email.

“We spoke with our attorney, and she said the email is of no consequence. She’s still the registrar of deeds, she’s been sworn in as registrar of deeds and there’s nothing inappropriate going on,” DiBlasi said. “She’s saying a lot of things that just aren’t so. We’re not using her name. Laura signs documents as Laura, not as Diane.”


The registrar has legal responsibility to certify and sign financial reports on real estate transfers for the Maine Revenue Service and the Board of Commissioners.

In her email, Godin appears to say that she does not recognize Price as deputy registrar and that she has chosen someone else to do that job, but does not say who that person is. DiBlasi said she does not know who Godin is referring to, because that person has not shown up for work.

“I have a duly appointed deputy who is not currently registry staff,” Godin wrote.

Godin did not respond to a request for further comment Wednesday.

The trouble began in August 2013 when Price, the deputy registrar, filed papers to challenge Godin, her boss, in the 2014 election. Hostilities escalated with a series of conflicts with employees and the public in the Somerset County Courthouse and with increasing discipline from the county administration against Godin, including first an oral warning and later a written warning to stop “retaliatory behavior” against Price and her supporters.

The conflict burned through the spring and summer of 2014 and then culminated after Godin won the election in a December county courthouse blowup in which Godin reportedly locked herself in her office and refused to come out. That prompted a police response because DiBlasi previously had put Godin on leave and barred her from the building.


County commissioners in January voted to change Godin’s work hours to only the first Thursday of each month. Godin has yet to report to work since the January vote.

In her email to the county, Godin wrote that officials “have canceled my benefits and placed (undue) financial hardship on my family. Your methods of intimidation are disrespectful, are uncalled for and without question illegal.” Godin also wrote that she was denied the opportunity to perform her duties and has been denied her salary as prescribed by law.

DiBlasi said those statements are false and that county commissioners have the authority to set the hours, wages and duties of the registrar of deeds.

Under the commissioner’s vote in January, Godin would work one eight-hour day per month for a paid stipend of $5,000 annually with payments made after her work was completed each month. She was told to report for work from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month with an hour off for lunch.

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

The Somerset County charter states that county officials, including the registrar of deeds, “must adhere to the laws of the state of Maine and county policies developed by the Board of Commissioners.”


Kristen Schulze Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of the Secretary of State, has said that while the state’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions oversees the statewide election process, it is not involved in county election matters. The Maine Municipal Association also has declined to comment on the Godin case.

According to state law, an elected official may be recalled if a written petition signed by 10 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election is filed. But the law provides that a recall election for an elected office holder cannot be held in the first or last six months of a term of office.

A recall is not an action that has been considered, DiBlasi said.

The Somerset County charter provides that a vacancy occurs through “death, resignation, permanent incapacity or forfeiture of office” and can be filled through an appointment by county officials, while a state law provides for removal of a registrar of deeds by the Superior Court if the registrar is found guilty of misconduct or found to be incapable of discharging the duties of the office. The legal proceedings can be initiated either by a grand jury or by the state attorney general.

Godin’s next scheduled work day is Thursday, June 4. If she does not show up, DiBlasi said, she will not be paid — just as has happened the last five months.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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