September 18, 2020

Firefighter in Bangor accused of embezzlement is fired

Bangor firefighter John Shawley III, accused of embezzling money from the union of which he was treasurer, was fired this week, according to his attorney.

“They made a major mistake by doing this, by firing him before there’s any disposition” of the criminal case, Peter K. Baldacci said Thursday outside Penobscot County Superior Court, where his client earlier pleaded innocent to a charge that he took $13,000 in dues from Bangor Professional Firefighters.

Shawley, 41, of East Corinth, a 19-year veteran of the Bangor Fire Department, had been suspended with pay pending a decision after a disciplinary hearing last week.

Baldacci, pointing out that his client was six months shy of retirement and had an otherwise spotless disciplinary record, said Shawley would file a grievance with the city over his dismissal.

Robert Farrar, director of administration for the city, would neither confirm nor deny that Shawley had been fired, saying he couldn’t comment on a personnel matter until final action was taken. Final action, he said, would include any grievance proceedings.

Ironically, the union will represent him in his grievance. Lt. David Bickford, union president, said the organization was contractually obligated to do so.

Shawley faces up to 10 years in prison and a potential $10,000 fine if convicted on the Class B theft charge for which he was indicted Monday. Baldacci said he was “90 percent sure” negotiations with the District Attorney’s Office would result in a plea agreement.

He is accused of misappropriating funds from checks to the union from the city for union dues deducted automatically from firefighters’ paychecks, and using the money for personal reasons. Shawley has repaid all the money, said Baldacci.

As treasurer, said Baldacci, “Mr. Shawley was entitled to negotiate checks and put them temporarily in a personal account.” Although he said his client had admitted using poor judgment, Baldacci said he was looking into whether there was any improper use of the funds.

Shawley remains free on $5,000 unsecured bond set by Justice Margaret Kravchuk. Deputy District Attorney Michael P. Roberts represented the state.

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