Shady sheriff in Maine sells guns from evidence lockup

(AP Photo/Philip Kamrass, File)

In a lot of places, it’s standard procedure for law enforcement agencies to sell guns that are in their evidence lockers. Not all of them, mind you–guns that were reported stolen are generally returned to their owners, for example–but those that are unaccounted for and aren’t needed for trial are sold.


That’s not what happens everywhere, though, and even where it does, the agencies have rules about accounting for the money.

But a sheriff in Maine is in hot water because, well, he allegedly did everything wrong when he sold guns.

The sheriff directed his detective to complete an unusual task: gather guns from the office’s evidence room to be sold.

The detective did as he was ordered. On June 8, 2021, Detective Michael Halacy emailed the sheriff a list of guns he had confirmed were not stolen.

It wasn’t enough. Oxford County Sheriff Christopher Wainwright told Halacy to collect more guns from evidence for the sale, including a Walther PP 9 mm pistol, according to internal sheriff’s office reports. It had a well-documented history: Dixfield police had recovered it after it had been stolen.

Instead of asking Halacy to try to return it to its rightful owner, Wainwright sold it and dozens of other guns in a deal that has avoided public scrutiny, even by Oxford County’s financial officers, until now. An outside expert said the situation should prompt an independent investigation.

If Wainwright was accused of literally nothing else besides selling that Walther, that would be enough. This is a firearm that was reported stolen and that had an identifiable lawful owner.

Regardless, he directed that gun to be sold as well.

As bad as that is, though, it’s not the totality of the allegations against Wainwright.


In two separate batches, in June and September 2021, the sheriff sold a total of 52 guns and gun parts from evidence to J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop in Auburn as part of a deal that he apparently did not record on paper. He did not tell the county administrator, the county treasurer or the county commissioners about the sale beforehand even though they are responsible for county finances.

What the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office received in return for the guns is not clear. After phone calls and emails to the sheriff over a period of a month asking for an explanation about where the money went, he said Thursday in an email that all proceeds went to purchasing “equipment for the county.” He did not elaborate in response to further questions.

The problem with that explanation is without it going through the proper channels, there’s no evidence that he actually did spend it on equipment for the county. That’s kind of why things go through the county treasurer’s office, so the people can know what is being spent and where it’s being spent.

Just because these were from firearm sales doesn’t exempt the funds from that process.

Then the fact that he knew which guns weren’t reported stolen and still directed the Walther PP to be sold is especially troubling. Basically, it’s a second theft of that gun. Wainwright is basically accused of re-stealing a firearm, only this time from his evidence room.


Now, we need to remember that these are allegations. Wainwright is innocent until proven guilty.

But there definitely needs to be an investigation, directed by parties not affiliated with the sheriff’s office, to see if there’s anything to these allegations.

If so, Wainwright needs to be removed from office.

These aren’t the first allegations against Wainwright, either, but to me, these are more egregious than some of the others against him. One that isn’t is the accusation that he gave badges and guns to two men, then assigned them as school resource officers, despite them not being certified law enforcement officers. Pretty sure that’s a big one, too.

But as bad as that is, taking a gun that is waiting to be returned to its lawful owner and selling it instead–especially knowing it had an owner identified–is a dirtbag move.


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