July 24, 2013

Ex-Fairfield police chief OUI case postponed

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN — A former Fairfield police chief who faces a criminal charge will not have his case appear in court this week, as was originally scheduled.

A dispositional court hearing to discuss the case of former chief John Emery, who Skowhegan police say was operating under the influence on December 24, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed.

Emery’s lawyer, Walter McKee, filed a not guilty plea to the charge on May 7.

The Kennebec County District Attorney’s office filed a motion on behalf of the state seeking a continuance of the case in the Skowhegan District Court, and that motion was granted.

Joelle Pratt, the assistant district attorney who has been handling the prosecution, is out all this week, according to staff at her office.

A new date for the court hearing has not yet been set.

Emery went on an extended leave of absence following a Dec. 24 incident on Palmer Road in Skowhegan, where Emery lives.  On that day, 15 law enforcement officials, some high-ranking, from three agencies responded to a call about a “mental subject,” a police radio term for someone who is acting strangely or irrationally.

Officials have remained tight-lipped about whether the Palmer Road call was related to Emery, who took a leave of absence from work two day later.

Seeking information on the case, the Morning Sentinel filed an information request with the Skowhegan police under Maine’s Freedom of Access laws, which provide the public with the right to access public records.

Skowhegan police Chief Ted Blais declined to release the information, which he said is shielded from public access because it is part of an active prosecution.

When Emery formally stepped down from his position March 1, he called it “a very sad day,” in his resignation letter.

Emery served with the Fairfield police department for 27 years.

Pratt is handling the case with guidance from the Attorney General’s office, where criminal division Chief William Stokes has said he is ensuring Emery’s case is being handled without special treatment.

According to the criminal court complaint filed by Skowhegan police Officer Josh King, Emery “did operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, or while having an alcohol level of .08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath.” Operating under the influence is a class D crime, which carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
mhhetling@centralmaine.com

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