A federal jury has found that Maine State Police supervisors retaliated against a detective who refused to break federal disclosure rules and tried to report what he believed was illegal data collection by a secretive state police intelligence unit.

The jury of six men and three women deliberated for more than five hours Friday afternoon before handing a victory to George Loder, of Scarborough, who filed suit against the state police in 2020 alleging that he was targeted for retaliation by his bosses for failing to share information about his work at a federal anti-terrorism task force.

George Loder, who sued the Maine State Police for retaliation, walks out of the Federal Courthouse on Wednesday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The jury awarded Loder $300,000 in compensatory damages.

Loder was assigned in 2013 to the Maine Information and Analysis Center but was posted almost immediately to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland to assist in its anti-terrorism investigations. He retired in March after taking a demotion to trooper.

“It feels good, is probably the best way to say it,” Loder said, smiling, as he left U.S. District Court in Portland on Friday evening with his wife. “It just feels good.”

Assistant Attorney General Paul Suiter and Lt. Col. Brian Scott, the current commander of the state police, declined to comment on the verdict or indicate whether they will appeal any issues of law that arose during the case.


During the five-day trial, Loder said he resisted sharing details of the federal investigations during weekly meetings attended by a rotating staff of state law enforcement partners because federal rules forbade him from discussing his work without filing a disclosure form each time.

Loder was a deputized federal agent, drove an FBI car and reported to an FBI office during his time with the task force, but his employer was still the Maine State Police.

The jury began deliberations just after 1 p.m. Friday. One juror was dismissed that morning after she reported to Justice Jon D. Levy that she feared she could not remain impartial. The jury heard four days of testimony in which Loder’s attorney, Cynthia Dill, showed that Loder reported what he believed were illegal information collection practices.

Dill said Friday that she was honored to have represented Loder.

“His courage is going to serve the privacy interests of all of us,” she said. “I think the state police needs to fix the activity report, purge the personal identifying information of private citizens who are engaging in lawful activity, and I hope the Mills administration does a thorough vetting of the people in this case who are responsible.”

One MIAC practice, the creation of a regular and detailed activity report, was of particular concern, Loder alleged. The MIAC activity report was a repository for documentation about every task performed by the staff there, and the reports sometimes contained the personal identifying information of people who did not commit a crime.


In one example, Dill elicited testimony of how the names and dates of birth of counselors at the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield were entered into the activity report. Dill argued that the activity report violated federal privacy laws, but state police officials repeatedly denied that the federal rules applied to the activity report database.

In another case, at least one person who was not suspected of any crime but had testified at a public hearing in Farmington about the controversial CMP transmission line project had their name, social media account information and other details collected and permanently stored in the activity report.

The state police attorney at the time, Christopher Parr, who was also the privacy officer for the MIAC, testified that he did not know the details of what the activity report contained, and was surprised when the individual’s information emerged from the database following a freedom of information request.

The lawsuit centered on a few key months in 2018 when Loder was recalled from his federal position and reassigned to work in Augusta at the MIAC, where he was expected to perform background checks and other office-based tasks. The reassignment followed months of friction between Loder and his direct supervisor, then-Sgt. Michael Johnston, who urged Loder to share more information about the task force’s investigations.

Loder said he was called back from the assignment because he reported what he believed were violations of federal privacy regulations that govern how police agencies should handle sensitive criminal intelligence while also protecting privacy rights.

State police officials testified that they pulled Loder because they were short-staffed and needed him to backfill for a MIAC detective who was retiring, and that no one since has replaced Loder.

State police said they could not have possibly retaliated against Loder, because he had not made the allegations about the illegal data collection and privacy violations before they pulled him back to Augusta.

Loder also argued he was denied a lateral transfer to a detective’s position in the Major Crimes Unit as punishment for his dissent and refusal to cooperate in what he believed was illegal activity at the MIAC. But state police witnesses testified that while it was true Loder was a detective and has specialized training, he was ineligible because he had once lied during an internal investigation into his conduct.

Prosecutors have to turn over any evidence that would undermine the credibility of a witness, including police officers, meaning Loder’s past could come back to haunt him as he made arrests and was called to testify, giving defense attorneys an opportunity to criticize his trustworthiness.

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