The Oxford County sheriff who resigned amid allegations he sexually harassed members of his department is under investigation by the FBI, which found that someone in the office had destroyed documents, hard drives and cellphone records, a sheriff’s department official testified.

Chief Deputy Christopher Wainwright also testified that similar conduct against county workers could date back to as early as 2014 and that the FBI began investigating former sheriff Wayne Gallant and his former chief deputy, Hart Daley, before Gallant stepped down last December.

It is not clear whether records were destroyed to conceal evidence.

A spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI, which covers Maine, declined to comment.

The allegations, made in a courtroom two weeks ago during a hearing in a seemingly unrelated case, add a new level of seriousness to a case that shocked law enforcement when it unfolded late last year, ending the law enforcement career of the respected western Maine sheriff.

Gallant is accused of sending sexually explicit photos of himself to employees and people outside the department. Gallant stepped down after an investigation by county commissioners concluded he, “while in uniform and in his office, sent a photograph to a female employee of another law enforcement agency in which his genitals were exposed.”

The Portland Press Herald obtained an audio recording of the hearing, which included the first publicly disclosed details about the ongoing federal investigation.

Recording of Oxford County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Christopher Wainwright being questioned under oath by attorney Ted Dilworth on July 11. 

Wainwright’s testimony came during a July 11 hearing in the case of Oxford County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Brian Landis, who has been on unpaid leave since he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence terrorizing in June 2017 for allegedly threatening to kill his wife, Dawn Landis. The couple are now in divorce proceedings.

Brian Landis

Brian Landis has denied those charges, and through his attorney, says that Gallant used the couple’s impending separation to get Landis fired because he rebuffed Gallant’s sexual advances and because Landis could have blown the whistle on Gallant’s history of sexually harassing employees.

“These folks were going through a divorce, and the sheriff saw an opportunity to divide these people even further for his own benefit,” Landis’ attorney, Ted Dilworth, said in an interview Wednesday.

“Imagine being charged with a crime and finding out the people who are part of the investigation are shredding documents, wiping out their cellphones, basically wiping out hard drives,” Dilworth said. “It’s troubling behavior. We’re supposed to get a fair shake when we go to court.”

Gallant could not be reached for comment Wednesday and did not return a message left at a number listed for his Bethel home.

Daley, the former chief deputy, denied any wrongdoing in an email.

“I know I have not been interviewed or questioned by anybody about anything,” Daley said in the email. “However, any allegations regarding misconduct would be completely false.”

Dilworth wants the terrorizing case dismissed, a request that Judge Charles Dow has taken under advisement. The case is slated to return to court Tuesday for further witness testimony. Dilworth declined to name witnesses he plans to call.

Following the July 11 hearing, Dow modified the bail conditions for Landis, allowing him to carry a firearm during working hours. That could allow him to return to paid status with the county.

Until now, Gallant’s departure and the charges against Landis appeared to be unconnected.

But Wainwright testified that he was shown information obtained by the FBI that Gallant was in touch with Dawn Landis before, during and after Brian Landis’ arrest, and that Gallant shared confidential information about Brian Landis with her.

In Facebook messages that were captured by FBI warrants and viewed by Wainwright, Gallant told Dawn Landis that he was scared of Brian Landis and that Gallant slept with two guns. Gallant also invited Dawn Landis to come stay with him, Wainwright testified. Wainwright also said the sheriff sent a county information technology employee to help Dawn Landis install surveillance cameras she purchased, which were installed at a home owned by Brian Landis without his knowledge.

Former Oxtord County Chief Deputy Hart Daley

“That’s one of the things I wanted to speak with, and the investigators wanted to speak with (Gallant) about,” Wainwright said. “We had asked to investigate witness tampering by Hart Daley and Wayne Gallant (of) Dawn Landis. It was just the sheer fact that he’s saying he’s soliciting sex, or soliciting to have (Dawn Landis) move in, and also from Brian Landis and (his) girlfriend.”

Before he left office, Gallant also took photographs with his cellphone of confidential documents contained in Landis’s personnel file, Wainwright said. After he left office, Gallant sent those documents to Dawn Landis, Wainwright testified. Wainwright said the FBI asked him to verify that the photographs depicting the documents were authentic.

Wainwright said that around the same time – four days after Brian Landis was arrested and bailed from Oxford County Jail, which Gallant controlled – Gallant sent sexual text messages and nude images of himself to Brian Landis and to Landis girlfriend, invited them to have beers with him at his house, and propositioned having Brian Landis perform oral sex on Gallant while the girlfriend watched.

“That was one of the reasons why the FBI was investigating it, because he was out on bail from the sheriff’s facility,” Wainwright testified. “(Landis) was a prisoner and the sheriff was trying to solicit sex from (him) even though he was an employee.”

When the accusations about Gallant’s alleged sexual advances first became public, a union representative for the deputies, Ray Cote, told media outlets that Gallant sent multiple sexually explicit photographs of himself to a male deputy’s girlfriend and requested that Gallant, the deputy and the woman have sex. When the employee rebuffed the advances, Gallant threatened the deputy’s job, Cote said.

Cote did not name the deputy at the time.

Chief Deputy Christopher Wainwright

At the July 11 hearing, Sagadahoc Assistant District Attorney Alexander Willette called Gallant’s alleged sexual conduct with employees and the FBI investigation that followed a “side show” tactic to distract from Landis’ threats to kill his wife on two occasions in June 2017.

In a protection from abuse order filed shortly after Brian Landis was arrested, Dawn Landis accused her husband of having a history of assault and controlling behavior toward her and said he has untreated post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use problems.

Landis, through his attorney, denied the allegations contained in the protection order.

When the first FBI subpoenas began arriving in November 2017 before Daley or Gallant left office, the federal agency requested that no records or documents in the office be destroyed, Wainwright testified.

Wainwright said Gallant had been issued three county computers and a cellphone. Daley was issued at least one county computer and a cellphone.

Wainwright said the FBI shared information with him about how Gallant had accessed tens of thousands of increasingly provocative images on one of his computers, and through the subpoena, the FBI sought to seize the computers and the cellphones for further analysis.

But Gallant was an elected official, not a county employee. Wainwright testified that he met with the county commissioners and then-county administrator Scott Cole to get authority to proceed with the FBI requests for information that Gallant controlled.

“As Hart Daley and Sheriff Gallant were leaving, I was assisting in the investigation. But the sheriff and chief deputy were in charge and they controlled the communication systems, the computers, the records,” Wainwright said in court. “‘It’s a slippery slope,’ is what (the county) said,” Wainwright testified. “‘The sheriff is elected and is in charge.’ … So we decided we’d wait until the sheriff was removed, and as soon as he was removed, we were going to seize the computers and hard drives and comply with the federal subpoena and hand them over to the FBI.”

Wainwright testified that Daley was notified of the order to preserve all of his records. It was not clear from the testimony whether Gallant was made aware of that directive.

After Gallant stepped down, he turned over his cellphone and computer, but Wainwright said the devices had been wiped clean.

When Daley was removed from the department and escorted off county property in early 2018, Wainwright seized Daley’s laptop, but said the FBI found a similar situation. There was no information on the devices, Wainwright testified.

Wainwright said he found a bag of shredded documents in an office, and that until recent updates to the county’s information technology systems, there was no backup mechanism to prevent the destruction of emails, text messages and other electronic communications.

“There was nothing. From other things we know, personnel files were shredded, everything was wiped clean. Nothing was left at the office that was related to this, and when I say this case, it’s kind of this whole thing,” Wainwright said in court on July 11.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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