|FBI investigates Maine State Police DEA agent who arrested Richard Sargent for Mike's murder|
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 on Mike's murder, Sharon Sargent, and the Maine
State Police DEA agent who arrested Richard
Sargent for Mike's murder and the Sargent
family for drug trafficking. Both
arrests were done at the same time.
Richard wanted to give me copies of several FBI interviews, but they were in the possession of his attorney, Marshal Stern—and Stern refused to release them to Richard. Richard’s sister, Linda Harriman had received copies of the FBI interviews from her and her mother’s defense attorney. She gave copies to Richard, and he gave them to me. The FBI interviews 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 Richard Sargent for the murder of Micheal Cochran.
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 statements from Sharon Sargent and Maine State Police employee 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.
There were several articles in the news concerning the FBI investigating the Maine State Police. Most of the newspapers didn't report Mike's murder being part of the corruption but a few did.
|Assistant AG Goodwin commands me 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 my recorded telephone
conversations. The subpoena was dated February 10,
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 Shman's response to the taped conversation of Richard and Cormier, talking about how Mike was shot in the head before 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 weren't getting anything more from me. I sent the Virginia State Police (Pollard was living in Virginia) the taped conversations of Richard Sargent and Lionel Cormier talking about how Mike was killed, and VA state police 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 conversation I had recorded concerning the death of Mike. 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 of statements by Lionel Cormier or other persons concerning the death of Micheal Cochran.”
Shuman said they didn't know where Paul Pollard was but after I found him the AG's office wanted the recorded conversation. I also recorded conversations with Percy Sargent and his brother Richard Sargent. I also had Richard Sargent's many recorded conversation with Lionel Cormier telling how Mike was killed. I resentfully handed them over to Assistant AG Goodwin knowing regardless of what was on the recordings there was no hope of the AG's office ever looking at the men who killed Mike. I also I knew I couldn’t defy them 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 in 1984 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 Richard's recordings 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 find out who I was getting information from. Goodwin said if he found enough information for an indictment, then he would take it before a grand jury. It is now more than 35 since I gave Assistant AG Goodwin the documents and that has never happened.
|I write letters to Maine law officials for help with Mike's case.|
|I had written
to Maine Governor John McKernan regarding the problems
with the investigation of Mike’s murder. His
letter was dated the same day, February 17, 1987, Assistant AG Goodwin seized the information I had collected on Mike’s murder.
In his letter he thanked me for "contacting my office regarding the problems you have encountered in the investigation of your son’s death.
I am in the process of developing the details of state policies that my administration will pursue in this area. To ensure complete consideration of your comments, I have forwarded your letter to the appropriate department for comment. You will be receiving an additional response in the near future."|
On March 9, 1987, I received another letter from Governor John R. McKernan. "This letter is a follow-up to my earlier correspondence, regarding a case of suspected murder in which you have a strong interest. Members of my staff have informed me that you have been unsatisfied with investigations conducted by the FBI Office in Bangor, and with efforts by the State Attorney General’s Office on this same case."
What a slap in the face to say suspected murder that I had a strong interest in. My son’s death was not a suspected murder, it was a brutal murder; and as his mother, my interest was more than strong, I was obsessed with my son’s murder and the fact that the authorities had no interest in arresting the men who were involved in his murder. Shuman and Pinkham never once spoke with Lionel Cormier or Percy Sargent.
McKernan's letter upset me. What was Governor McKernan talking about when he said I wasn't satisfied with investigations conducted by the FBI? The FBI had never been involved in the investigation of Mike’s murder. And I sure wasn't satisfied with the efforts by the State Attorney General's office when Assistant AG Tom Goodwin tried to prosecute three innocent men for Mike's murder.
McKernan advised me to follow-up on the FBI’s investigation by contacting members of my Congressional Delegation: Senator William S. Cohen, Senator George J. Mitchell, and Representative Olympia J. Snowe (his future wife). And for further information on the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office, he suggested I contact Attorney General James E. Tierney. He hoped his information was useful and he appreciated my enlisting his assistance in the matter. It appeared to me that McKernan had contacted the Maine Attorney General’s Office and found the problem was not with the investigation, it was with me.
I did contact Senator William S. Cohen. It was just another hurtful response. He said "As you are aware, the FBI does not investigate suspected homicides. [Why did McKernan and Cohen both call Mike's murder a suspected homicide? Who is giving them that information? The Attorney General's office? When three men were indicted for Mike's murder in 1984 it was not called suspected homicide. Those men were indicted for arson/murder. They were innocent of Mike's murder, so now since they bungled the case it's a suspected homicide]."
The letters I received from McKernan and Cohen had been so discouraging that contacting anyone else seemed hopeless. But in 1989, I tried again when I contacted Senator George J. Mitchell. Mitchell did accept some of my documents and sent them to AG Tierney's office but it was the same discouraging response. A letter from Tierney to Mitchell said "It appears that the information that is included with your letter is to prove that Paul Pollard and/or Lionel Cormier murdered Micheal Cochran. This material had already been seen by our office and contains nothing which would specifically tie either Pollard or Cormier to the killing.
A couple of months after receiving Mitchell's letters, I received a letter from Assistant AG Thomas Goodwin in 1989. I hadn’t heard from him for five long years. But now he wrote that he was back on Mike’s nearly nine-year-old murder case. Goodwin wrote saying
“This is to advise you that the investigation of Micheal’s death [Goodwin didn't use the word homicide or murder either] has again been assigned to me. As you are aware, I was well up to speed on the case when I left this office in 1987, and I have had the opportunity to review what has occurred since then (Not much, I regret to say)”. [If he was up to speed, I never knew it]. “If you have thoughts you wish to convey to this office, I will be glad to have them, preferably in letter form, because I find that the contents of telephone calls tend to get lost. I will also be glad to advise you of any significant developments in the case in the same way.”I had absolutely no thoughts I wanted to convey to Tom Goodwin. I felt that his refusal, along with Homicide/DEA Agents Pinkham and Shuman, to look at Lionel Cormier, Paul Pollard, and Percy Sargent was unconscionable. I never heard from Goodwin again [33 years ago].
|I contact Paul Pollard again and also Owen Pollard|
|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.
appeal and 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 [sister-in-law], 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.