FBI INVESTIGATE MAINE STATE POLICE DEA AGENTS|
I did not learn until January 1987 that the day (December 5, 1984) Richard Sargent was arrested for Mike’s murder that he was also arrested for growing illegal mushrooms along with his sister, Linda Sargent Harriman, and his mother, Frances Sargent. I also learned at that time that there was an FBI investigation being conducted concerning the State’s informant, Sharon Sargent, and the Maine State Police DEA agent who arrested the Sargent family. This DEA agent was also the one who arrested Richard Sargent for Mike’s murder. Both arrests were done at the same time.
Richard wanted to give me copies of some FBI statements, but they were in the possession of his attorney, Marshal Stern—and Stern refused to release the statements to Richard. Richard’s sister, Linda Harriman had received copies of the FBI statements from her and her mother’s defense attorney. She gave copies to Richard, and he gave them to me. The FBI statements gave me an inside look at how the arrest of Richard Sargent for Mike’s murder had transpired on December 5, 1984, two years previous, along with police misconduct that occurred at the time.
The first statement was taken from State Police Sergeant Kenneth MacMaster who had begun his career with the Maine State Police in 1978; six years later he was a Senior Special Agent in the Maine DEA Organized Crime (drug) Unit. He had participated in numerous drug investigations that had been prosecuted both in State and Federal Court.
In late November or early December of 1984, Maine State Police Sergeant Michael Pratt was also assigned to the Maine DEA Organized Crime Unit. Shortly after MacMaster's assignment to the crime unit, Penobscot Chief Deputy Sheriff Carl Andrews contacted MacMaster and Sergeant Pratt concerning an informant who had information on a mushroom growing operation and a murder.
The two Maine State Police DEA Agents proceeded to Bangor that night to meet the informant. She accompanied the two agents to the Winterport area. MacMaster drove while the informant sat in the front seat. Pratt sat in back taking notes as the informant was debriefed. This resulted in the issuance of a search warrant. The plan was to coordinate the execution of the drug search warrant with the arrest of three men (Richard Sargent, Roger Johnson and William Myers) the informant said was involved in Mike’s murder.
A week or so after the three men were arrested Sharon Sargent called the DEA Organized Crime Unit to say she was frightened. She claimed the door to her apartment had been knocked in, she was assaulted and her residence had been spray-painted. She was referred to the Criminal Investigation Division in Bangor. Sergeant Pratt and Homicide Detective Barry Shuman then had a big argument about whose responsibility it was to respond to Sharon's fears.
MacMaster later learned that Pratt had spent the night with Sharon and he was told by someone requesting confidentiality that Sharon was claiming she had sex with MSP DEA Agent Pratt. As time passed she continued to call with concerns about being protected and disputes continued between Pratt and Shuman about whose responsibility it was to deal with Sharon's concerns.
The FBI took a statement from Sharon Sargent and Maine State Police employees Cpl. Shuman, Special DEA Agent Kenneth MacMaster, Sergeant Ron Moody and Det. Dennis Appleton. There was also a statement from Det. Sergeant Sheriff Michael Harrington.
The news followed the FBI investigation of the Maine State Police and the problem the state had with the mushroom case because of Pratt's sexual affair with the state's informant and lying about it in court. There were two other officers accused of the same misconduct. Most of the newspapers didn't report Mike's murder being part of the corruption but a few did.
I AM SUBPOENAED TO APPEAR BEFORE THE GRAND JURY
With all that was going on with the FBI’s investigation of the Maine State Police, I received a subpoena from Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin to appear before a Grand Jury in Hancock County to produce all the materials I had collected. The subpoena was dated February 10, 1987.
In the past six years, no matter what information the detectives received or what information I gave to them, it was never the right information to help in the investigation of Mike’s murder. When I told Shuman that I received a letter from Percy Sargent and in it he fingered Paul Pollard and Lionel Cormier. His response was how would he know the letter was actually from Percy Sargent. I said, “Sure, I wrote myself a letter and I’m saying it’s from Percy Sargent.” I still have the envelope with the postmark on it. And his response to the taped conversation of Richard and Cormier, talking about how Mike was shot in the head and then Pollard poured the gas all over—he said the tapes were altered. I finally told Shuman, “If I had an actual video of Mike being murdered, you’d say there was something wrong with the video.” He said I was being vindictive.
I decided that the Maine State Police wasn’t getting anything more from me. I sent the Virginia State Police (State Pollard was living in) the taped conversations of Richard Sargent and Lionel Cormier talking about how Mike was killed, and they in turn sent the documents to the Maine State Police.
It was one month after I contacted the Virginia State Police that Maine Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin decided that he wanted me to turn over all the materials I had collected. The subpoena said "You are hereby commanded to appear before the Grand Jury of the State of Maine at 60 State Street, Ellsworth, Hancock County, Maine, on February 17, 1987 at 9:00 a.m. and bring with you the following: All electronic recordings you have in your possession or statements by Lionel Cormier or other persons concerning the death of Micheal Cochran.”
I had many recorded conversations and statements concerning Mike's murder that had been given to me and many that I had collected. I dreaded copying it all to hand over to Assistant AG Goodwin but I knew I couldn’t defy the authorities because I was afraid of them.
I spoke with a TV reporter that I had gotten to know quite well during the arrest of the three men for Mike’s murder and the many happenings afterward. His advice was that I should copy my documents and store them somewhere outside of my home in case the authorities would arrive at my home and seize all my documents – I wouldn’t have time to copy them if that should happen.
The morning Richard Sargent and I appeared before the Grand Jury (they wanted everything Richard had also. I got a chance to speak to the foreman of the jury. I briefly told him some facts of the case, but one thing I clearly remember saying: “Exactly six years ago today was the last day my son lived on the face of this earth.” In my mind, I thought if I told the jury the facts as I knew them that they would ask for an investigation into Mike’s murder, but that was pointless. I was a fool to think that the state would allow an investigation into Mike’s murder.
Goodwin’s only motive for the grand jury was to seize what I had. Goodwin took the materials from the foreman and said if he found there was enough for an indictment, then he would take it before a grand jury. It is now nearly 35 years later and that has not happened.
In 1988, Richard petitioned the court to allow him to present information he had to a grand jury against Lionel Cormier and Paul Pollard, but Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes was there to block his request. He told Judge Herbert T. Silsby, II that “this is an open, ongoing active investigation.” That was more than 33 years ago and the only truth in Deputy AG Stokes’ statement is that it is ongoing.
I CONTACT PAUL AND
June 1987, five months after I contacted the Virginia State Police, I contacted Paul Pollard again and taped the conversation. He was not very happy when he found out it was me. When I asked him to talk to me for a moment, he said, “Jesus Christ, what about?” But he didn't hang up as he had in December of 1986.
As we talked he leaned on his half-brother, Lionel Cormier.
“I went through the lie detector test and I was—because you got them moving, so they came and they gave it to me I mean what more can I do? I told them everything I knew and they did the test. They did it twice. I just don’t know anything and this should prove it,” Pollard said.
CORMIER APPEALS SHUMAN'S PERJURY
November 9, 1987, Defense Attorney Martha Harris argued Shuman's perjury before the Supreme Court.
News reported Harris' appeal claimed Shuman lied.
Cormier argued that his conviction should be vacated because of allegedly perjured testimony. Cormier claims that Sergeant Shuman perjured himself when Shuman testified that he did not know of the robberies prior to his interview with Pollard in 1985. During cross-examination, Cormier's counsel confronted Shuman with a transcript of an interview he had conducted with Richard Sargent's wife [error], Sharon Sargent, on July 24, 1984. During the interview, Shuman discussed the robberies with Ms. Sargent, indicating that he had knowledge of the robberies prior to his interview with Pollard. Cormier's counsel stressed this inconsistency in Shuman's testimony in her final argument to the jury.
The alleged use of the perjured testimony was also the subject of evidence Cormier presented at the hearing on his motion for a new trial. During that hearing, Cormier introduced two other interviews conducted by Shuman, not used at trial, as well as the interview with Sharon Sargent. Cormier contends that these interviews demonstrate Shuman's awareness of the robberies prior to his interview with Pollard, and that he should have been granted a new trial on that basis.
Although the knowing use of perjured testimony by the State in a criminal trial is a fundamental due process violation, see Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 269, 79 S. Ct. 1173, 1177, 3 L. Ed. 2d 1217 (1959); State v. Brunette, 501 A.2d 419, 423 (Me. 1985) the testimony of Sergeant Shuman on his prior knowledge of the robberies, although substantially inconsistent, does not rise to the level of being knowingly perjured. Moreover, the inconsistencies were known to Cormier's counsel and argued to the jury."