A former Hall-Dale High School custodian is suing the Kennebec County sheriff and four jail officers, saying their poor record-keeping forced him to serve a sentence three times and cost him his job, and the resulting stress caused him to lose 50 pounds and worsened his health.

The lawsuit filed by attorney Mark K. Laverdiere on behalf of Sedgewick R. Armstrong, 64, of Augusta, is being handled in federal court after the defendants had it moved from a state court.

The officers named as defendants are Randall Liberty, who was sheriff at the time and who is now warden of the Maine State Prison; Marsha Alexander, jail administrator; and corrections officers Corey Goodchild, Amanda L. Carlow and Matthew Ryan. All are being sued in their official and individual capacities. All, through attorneys Peter T. Marchesi and Cassandra S. Shaffer, have denied doing anything wrong and have claimed individual and official immunity for their actions. The answer to the complaint also says Armstrong’s complaint is “barred by the statute of limitations” and that the sheriff’s office cannot be sued.

Armstrong’s complaint says he attended a 10-day alternative sentencing program on Oct. 11, 2013, at the Friends Camp in South China. Court records show that was ordered after a conviction in Augusta District Court on two counts of operating after suspension, with the offenses occurring April 1, 2013, on State Street in Augusta and June 23, 2013, on River Road in Chelsea. He also was fined $1,000.

Laverdiere said Wednesday that Armstrong used vacation time from work to serve that sentence.

The complaint says Armstrong was arrested on new charges on June 21, 2014, and held at the same time for the 10-day sentence he already had completed.

Finally, the complaint says Armstrong was arrested March 25, 2015, on a charge of failure to report for the sentence on one of the two operating after suspension charges after “Kennebec County Correctional Facility Administrator Captain Marsha Alexander, signed a sworn affidavit on March 18, 2014, stating that Mr. Armstrong had not appeared for his sentence and that she had conducted an ‘extensive search’ of his jail and court records to confirm this,” the complaint says.

Armstrong was held until April 8, 2015, “when his defense counsel identified the multiple illegal arrests and the jail released Mr. Armstrong. The state dismissed the failure to report charge following the discovery that Mr. Armstrong had in fact served the sentence already,” according to the complaint.

It says Armstrong lost his janitor’s job, which he had for 21 years, “as a result of his multiple illegal incarcerations.”

On Wednesday, Laverdiere said, “he found out he had lost his job while he was in jail. He was reading the newspaper and saw that it was posted in the paper.” Armstrong is now working part time at a “big box store,” Laverdiere said, and continuing to seek full-time work.

In the complaint, Laverdiere writes that multiple arrests and incarcerations of Armstrong “is evidence of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department’s inadequate training of its personnel” and violated Armstrong’s rights.

“Mr. Armstrong ultimately served his 10-day sentence three times for a total of approximately 32 days, with at least 15 of those days” because of the incorrect affidavit to the court and a failure to search Armstrong’s jail record.

The complaint charges unlawful arrest, negligent supervision over how officers searched jail records, false imprisonment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and attorney’s fees and costs.

“He’d had some driving troubles and in the most recent one, he got caught driving after suspension,” Laverdiere said on Wednesday. “He did his sentence at the Friends camp. They picked him up the second time, and held him concurrently on two docket numbers. The third time is really the egregious one. You get your medicine from the court, you take it, and that should be all you have to take.”

In the federal case, Magistrate Judge John Nivison issued a scheduling order setting deadlines for various motions and indicating the case could be tried in March 2017.

“Right now the county’s not really giving any kind of explanation,” Laverdiere said.

Marchesi, one of the lawyers representing the defendants, responded by email to an inquiry Wednesday about the case.

“At this time we are reviewing the allegations and the information available to the jail in order to determine the facts,” he wrote. “The Kennebec County Jail makes every effort to ensure that inmate records are accurate and that detainees, including those participating in alternative sentencing programs, are confined as required by the courts. On very rare occasion the Jail’s efforts in this regard are not entirely successful. We cannot yet say with whether or not this is one of those rare occasions.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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