Maine’s governor and attorney general need to join forces against DHHS incompetence.

The “top stayer” at a Portland homeless shelter caused quite a stir this week when intrepid auditors from Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services discovered this person, likely mentally ill, had $92,424 in the bank while regularly bilking taxpayers out of a blue mat on a cold floor.

This big story, to the shock and delight of those keen on believing the LePage Administration is winning its epic battle against Attorney General Janet Mills and other liberals over welfare reform, was showcased by another news item — the governor’s case before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court accusing Mills of wrongfully refusing to represent him in two lawsuits dealing with cutting welfare benefits, and otherwise fettering his efforts to rid the system of ne’er-do-wells.

Well, folks, people north of Portland caught up in legal quagmires against DHHS and its lawyers within the Office of the Attorney General interrupt this narrative to say a pox on both houses!

Stunning incompetence by Department employees, enabled by the AG’s dogged defense, has wreaked financial havoc on numerous families, and caused gaping emotional wounds.

Take William Dean, for instance, and his family. Without the benefit of an audit, we don’t know whether Mr. Dean was the “top stayer” at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor, but he was there for almost a year in 2012 and 2013.

With assets worth over a half million dollars when admitted to DDPC, Dean was discharged a pauper, but it wasn’t the cost of medical care that drained this man’s estate. For reasons the Department’s witnesses can’t explain, the tab for his entire stay was picked up by Mainecare.

Dean’s caseworker, never once owning even a postage stamp of real estate, and lacking any legal or financial training, nevertheless filed “emergency” paperwork with the Penobscot County Probate Court to become Dean’s temporary conservator and sell off his biggest asset, against the wishes of his family and all common sense.

The so-called “emergency” that prompted an ex-parte proceeding in September giving the Department complete reign over Dean’s estate? Back taxes of roughly $5000 on an oceanfront cottage in Owl’s Head, scheduled to ripen the following February.

While his temporary guardian, the Department of Health and Human Services used $500 of Dean’s money to get an appraisal of his Owl’s Head property that concluded its worth to be $340,000. Then, the Department raced to sell it out from under his family for $205,000 to a Massachusetts real estate developer. All in order to pay $5000 in back taxes — an amount Dean’s family offered to pay to stop the sale.

Dean’s sister, Claire, was kicked out of the place at which she had been living and working, and Dean himself has lost his most valuable appreciating asset and is teetering on the brink of abject poverty. And he’s stuck with a capital gains tax liability of approximately $35,000.

For her good work, the caseworker has since been promoted.

How’s that for fiscal responsibility?

But that’s not all. In addition to selling Dean’s Owl’s Head cottage, the Department struck an “oral agreement” with an auctioneer who goes by the sobriquet “Chenrio Mexico” to hawk the family’s entire estate for a commission of up to 50%. Truck loads of cherished personal property worth thousands of dollars and representing the complete Dean family history was scheduled to be frittered away willy-nilly for no apparent reason. Dean’s cat was euthanized, and his cherished Cadillac towed away.

Sister Claire, because she had the audacity to try and stop the Department’s gigantic mindless machinery, became the subject of a vicious smear campaign by Department employees, who used government email to slander and demean her, while selling off her personal property, too.

While the Department of Health and Human Services fixates its eye on the City of Portland, and the governor jousts with the Attorney General over welfare politics, somewhere another incompetent bureaucrat who caused great suffering is paid, promoted and defended by the public.

And that, my friends, is a solemn occasion.


Cynthia Dill, Esq., represents Claire Dean Perry in the ongoing litigation pending in state court.



Cynthia Dill

About Cynthia Dill

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights attorney with the Portland firm Troubh Heisler. She has served as a state senator and representative, and she is the former Democratic nominee in Maine's 2012 U.S. Senate race. She holds a BA from the University of Vermont and a JD from Northeastern University. She is admitted in the U.S. District Courts for Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims. Dill lives in Cape Elizabeth with her husband Tom and their two children.