GOULDSBORO — Paul Gamble, who challenged his firing as Gouldsboro’s police chief in February 2016, has reached a settlement with the town.
Town Manager Bryan Kaenrath said the total settlement paid to Gamble was $67,500.
“The town’s contribution to that was $7,500,” Kaenrath said. “All else was covered by the MMA (the Maine Municipal Association).”
The Maine Municipal Association offers professional services to towns and cities, such as advocacy, education, information, legal and personnel advisory services and group insurance.
Kaenrath said settling the matter was determined to be in the best interest of the town.
“The settlement is not an admission of liability or an admission the procedures employed by the town violated any town policy, procedure or rule of law in the termination of an employee,” Kaenrath said in a statement.
“As part of the settlement, plaintiff (Gamble) will dismiss all claims and file a resignation of employment with an agreement not to reapply in order to affirm his separation of employment with the town,” Kaenrath said.
Gamble, now a police officer in Limestone, said he felt somewhat vindicated.
“It was done through mediation,” he said of the settlement. “To me it speaks volumes that they had to reach a real monetary value.”
Gamble said that after attorney’s fees, he received the equivalent of a year’s salary.
Police Chief Tyler Dunbar was named to succeed Gamble.
The firing Feb. 3, 2016, took place in an executive session of the five-member Board of Selectmen. The vote was 5-0.
Gamble’s probationary period had been extended from three months to six months and was due to expire Feb. 22, 2016.
Following his dismissal, he retained legal counsel through Clifford & Clifford of Portland and Kennebunk, which specializes in, among other areas of the law, employment law.
Gamble said at the time of his firing that when he appeared before the selectmen Feb. 3, 2016, they showed him two receipts for gas purchased on the Police Department’s gas card.
He said he had used the card to put gas in his truck — which he said he had driven on town business — and in the police cruiser.
Gamble said he then gave the selectmen two more receipts for $20 each, saying he had used the card for gas used on police business.
Included in one of the $20 receipts, he said, was $5 he put in each of his own four-wheelers, which he and another officer used Jan. 17 to search for a stolen truck during a snowstorm.
“We were told the truck we were looking for was put into a gravel pit,” Gamble said.
The total for the four purchases, he said, was about $100 to $140.
“If they had just told me: ‘We know you’re using your own vehicle. Don’t use the gas card. Keep track of your mileage and turn it in,’” Gamble said.
He said he made about 20 trips to Bangor, Brewer and Ellsworth since he was named police chief on Aug. 24, 2015.
Selectmen did not comment on the firing, saying they could not since it was a personnel matter.
Gamble did acknowledge that his relationship with the board had at times been testy.
Soon after he was appointed police chief Gamble changed the color of the uniforms for the new officers to navy blue. The former chief wore black.
Gamble said he did this as a cost-saving measure since he was wearing the navy blue uniforms he had used as police chief on Swan’s Island. He had the department name re-embroidered on the seven uniforms at a total cost of $81.
He changed the patch on the uniforms as well, which he said looked more like that seen on police uniforms.
Other purchases included $800 on ammunition to help officers prepare to qualify with pistols and rifles at the shooting range.
There also were some rumblings about Gamble’s request to move his office into the fire chief’s office off of the town office meeting room.
He said that was prompted by an audit conducted by state police in October saying that his current office in the town quarters was not secure, that records and other confidential paperwork were easily accessible to anyone walking in the back door.
Gamble said one selectman at that time would go into the town manager’s office prior to each meeting and request a record of everything Gamble had done since the prior selectmen’s meeting two weeks prior.
“It was a very hostile work environment,” he said.