A former Maine legislator who was convicted of felony drug trafficking 35 years ago has been pardoned by outgoing Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Former state Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden, told Maine Public that he had requested clemency for the conviction and was notified by LePage’s staff that the governor signed the pardon late last week.

The pardon could affect an ongoing investigation by the Maine Warden Service into whether Pierce illegally hunted with firearms following his conviction, according to Maine Public. John MacDonald, warden service spokesman, told Maine Public the probe remains open.

Pierce called the conviction ancient history and said the Maine Democratic Party played “dirty politics” when it publicized his past during his unsuccessful re-election bid last fall, Maine Public reported.

Pierce also told Maine Public that he had hunted with firearms since his conviction, but didn’t realize he was violating state and federal laws that prohibit anyone with a felony conviction from possessing firearms. It’s also illegal for a felon to obtain a firearms hunting permit and applications ask people if they’ve been convicted of a crime.

Pierce declined to speak with the Portland Press Herald on Tuesday. In a series of texts, he said he hadn’t heard or read Maine Public’s story, couldn’t confirm its accuracy and wouldn’t provide further comment until he issues a written statement, possibly Wednesday afternoon.

“Let he without sin cast the first stone,” Pierce texted. “Some folks would be better off remembering that.”

The governor’s staff didn’t respond Tuesday to requests for confirmation and comment.

Pierce was among a contingent of House Republicans who were loyal to LePage during his two terms as governor.

Jeffrey Pierce

LePage has taken a tough approach to drug traffickers, saying he supported tougher sentences and pushing for more law enforcement resources to combat Maine’s opioid crisis. His last day in office is Wednesday. Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills will be sworn in Wednesday evening.

Pierce was convicted on charges he sold cocaine and marijuana to an undercover state trooper in 1983 and had other misdemeanor offenses between 1980 and 2006, including two convictions for driving under the influence, according to state background check records released by Democrats.

The Maine Warden Service confirmed in October that it was investigating Pierce after public records showed he had used firearms to kill deer, moose and turkeys as recently as 2012. Under state law, a pardon does not expunge a criminal record, but makes it confidential in most instances, Maine Public reported.

Pierce lost his re-election bid in November to Democrat Allison Hepler. He was seeking a third term representing House District 53, which includes the towns of Arrowsic, Dresden, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich and part of Richmond.

Pierce was the leading House Republican on the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, sat on the Marine Resources Committee and was running for a leadership position in the House.

Pierce had told Maine Public that he planned to release a full statement about his pardon on New Year’s Day.

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.