Deputy superintendent of 2 Maine correctional facilities charged with theft, bribery

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 1:56 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The deputy superintendent of the Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston and the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport was arrested Tuesday.

Gerald Merrill, Jr., 61, is charged with one count of both theft and bribery, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

According to the complaint, Merrill engaged in a scheme using state funds to purchase products from certain vendors in exchange for illegal kickback payments.

The AG’s office says an investigation was launched after the Maine State Auditor’s Office noticed irregular charges on cards Merrill controlled.

On Tuesday, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Mountain View Correctional Facility and at Merrill’s residence.

“These allegations that a public official who is entrusted with the stewardship of public money and the execution of essential government duties has abused that trust for personal gain are disturbing. While evidence of public corruption is thankfully rare in Maine, my office, Commissioner Liberty, and Auditor Dunlap take these allegations incredibly seriously,” said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. “I want to thank my team in the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the State Auditor for ensuring that Maine citizens are faithfully represented and responding swiftly to bring Mr. Merrill to account.”

“I am deeply disturbed by these allegations and fully support the actions of the Attorney General’s Office,” said Randy Liberty, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections. “The Maine Department of Corrections expects its employees, like all State employees, to adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct and failure to do so is unacceptable. The Department will fully support and assist the Attorney General’s Office in its work, and, working closely with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, we will ensure appropriate action is taken in response to this serious matter.”

Merrill was taken into custody and transferred to the Penobscot County Jail.

He made his first court appearance on Wednesday and is being held on $5,000 bail.

“While such occurrences are uncommon in every level of government, the charges filed in this case illustrate the importance of vigilance by all employees and the critical role that the Offices of the State Auditor and Attorney General play in assuring that public trust is maintained in the daily work of government,” said Auditor Matthew Dunlap. “The original audit work performed by the Office of the State Auditor was conducted with the same care and attention to detail that are attributes of all the work undertaken by this office. This situation was discovered through a review of routine transactions and identifying certain patterns, and we are proud of the work of the staff at the Office of the State Auditor, just as we are proud to stand with our colleagues in state government who work hard every day to serve the people of Maine with honesty and integrity. It is our pledge to the people of Maine that we will continue to strive to be vigilant on their behalf and to those colleagues in every aspect of public trust that we will work to improve and enhance their missions.”