The Maine Attorney General’s Office has launched a review of the chief medical examiner’s credibility and his side business as an expert witness in other states.

Then-Attorney General Janet Mills is photographed with Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner, in May 2018, when the National Association of Medical Examiners cited Maine’s as “one of the best medical examiner offices in the country.” Photo courtesy of the Office of the Attorney General

A lawmaker’s complaint triggered the review, which the Attorney General’s Office confirmed this week. It comes after Dr. Mark Flomenbaum prompted a mistrial in a Windham murder case by changing his opinion about key evidence at the last minute.

Documents indicate Gov. Janet Mills was aware of Flomenbaum’s side job while she was attorney general and gave him permission to do outside consulting work when he was hired, even though her spokesman suggested otherwise to the Portland Press Herald last month. One of those documents is a 2016 letter in which a Connecticut prosecutor warned Mills that a judge deemed Flomenbaum not credible as an expert witness in a child murder case.

COMPLAINT FILED

While working full time as Maine’s chief medical examiner, Flomenbaum also owns and operates Lincoln Forensics LLC, a private consulting firm in forensic pathology. The National Association of Medical Examiners said outside work is commonplace in the profession.

But Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent from Friendship, said it has become such a concern for criminal cases in Maine that he filed the complaint.

The Attorney General’s Office declined to release a copy of that complaint or comment on its contents, citing confidentiality of personnel records. Spokesman Marc Malon said it would be reviewed by a member of senior staff and that Flomenbaum will continue to perform his job as usual during that time. Malon did not know whether the results of that review would be made public.

Flomenbaum answered the Connecticut phone number listed for Lincoln Forensics when a reporter called Friday afternoon, but he quickly hung up.

“I’m not free to speak at the moment,” he said.

Evangelos said in an interview that he raised two key issues with the Attorney General’s Office.

The first is whether Flomenbaum has been working for consulting clients while he is supposed to be working at his state job. The Press Herald story that first reported about Flomenbaum’s firm noted that he answered its phone number on a Friday morning. In 2017, the last year for which budget information was available, Flomenbaum’s state salary and benefits was nearly $260,000.

“He can’t be making a quarter million dollars here for taxpayers and taking phone calls for his private business while he’s on state time,” Evangelos said.

The second is related to the Connecticut case in which Flomenbaum acted as an expert witness in 2016. He took the stand for the defense in a murder case, and he testified that he believed a child died of natural causes, not blunt-force trauma caused by the defendant. But the judge was not persuaded and ruled that Flomenbaum’s testimony was not credible. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“My second concern is that he is destroying his own credibility with his out-of-state consultancy because that washes back into Maine and Maine’s criminal justice system,” Evangelos said.

Flomenbaum worked in New York and Massachusetts before he came to Maine.

In New York, he was the No. 2 forensic pathologist and was part of the team that worked after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack to identify the remains of the thousands of people who died. He left that job in 2005 to become the chief medical examiner in Massachusetts. He was hired to clean up an office in disarray but ended up in trouble himself when his office misplaced the body of a Cape Cod man whose remains were sent in for an autopsy. He was fired from that job in 2007.

WORK OUTSIDE MAINE

Flomenbaum was hired in Maine in 2013 as deputy medical examiner. A year later he succeeded Dr. Margaret Greenwald in the office’s top post. In Maine, the governor appoints the chief medical examiner, but the office falls under the umbrella of the Attorney General’s Office. Under Flomenbaum’s leadership, Maine’s office was cited last year as “one of the best medical examiner offices in the country” by the National Association of Medical Examiners.

A spokesman for Mills told the Press Herald last month that she did not know about Lincoln Forensics while she was attorney general.

“Governor Mills was not aware of Dr. Flomenbaum’s outside employment during her time as Attorney General, and she has asked the Attorney General’s Office … to determine the scope of his outside employment and whether it presents a conflict of interest or any other issues,” Scott Ogden wrote in an email at that time.

“While the Governor wasn’t aware when she was Attorney General, it just came to our attention that the criminal division knew about it,” he added in a later email.

But documents indicate Mills did know about Flomenbaum’s work as an expert witness outside of Maine.

The prosecutor in Connecticut wrote to Mills in June 2016 to inform the then-attorney general about the judge’s decision about Flomenbaum’s testimony.

“It is incumbent upon me to share information your office may choose to disclose in homicide cases because it relates to Maine’s Chief Medical Examiner’s credibility,” State’s Attorney Patricia Froehlich wrote in her letter.

The Attorney General’s Office did not respond to that letter, Malon said.

Criminal defense lawyers in Maine have tried to cite Flomenbaum’s history in Massachusetts and Connecticut to cast doubt on the office’s work. But no judge has allowed them to pursue questions of Flomenbaum’s past in current cases. In one instance, the Attorney General’s Office requested to limit questions about the medical examiner’s past during Matthew Davis’ trial for a 2013 double murder in Oakfield. The judge agreed that it would be a distraction from the facts and could confuse the jury.

A footnote on the state’s motion also indicates that Mills knew about Flomenbaum’s work outside Maine.

“Pursuant to the terms of Dr. Flomenbaum’s employment with the State of Maine, Attorney General Janet Mills agreed that Dr. Flomenbaum could testify outside the State of Maine as an expert witness,” the footnote reads. “Dr. Flomenbaum does not have a contract with the State of Maine.”

‘SHE DOES NOT RECALL’

Ogden said in an email Friday that he had meant Mills was unaware of “the existence and extent of his business entity, Lincoln Forensics LLC,” but she knew Flomenbaum consulted on outside cases like many of his peers in the field.

“She does not recall seeing the June 2016 letter,” Ogden wrote. “Being a large organization, the Attorney General’s Office routinely received large amounts of correspondence directed to her as head of the office which she would not personally see. The governor is not prejudging the inquiry occurring at the Attorney General’s Office, but she respects Dr. Flomenbaum and the work he does on behalf of Maine people.”

Megan Gray can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemegan


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