Candidate for Knox County sheriff says 2012 arrest was result of honest mistake

Candidate for Knox County sheriff says 2012 arrest was result of honest mistake #867

In 2010, Phillips ran as a Republican in a three-way race against Dennison. Phillips finished a distant … After high school, he spent 7½ years in the U.S.

ROCKLAND, Maine — An independent candidate running for Knox County sheriff was arrested two years ago for driving with a license that had been suspended because he reportedly had not made required child support payments.

Michael L. Phillips, 41, acknowledged Wednesday that he had been arrested and said it was the result of an honest mistake and that he had not missed any child support payments.

Phillips said he does not believe the arrest should affect his run for sheriff.

Phillips said he was not aware that his license had been suspended when a Rockland police officer stopped him on April 5, 2012. The candidate said the officer had the option of simply issuing a summons or arresting him. The officer decided to arrest him.

Phillips was released that same day on unsecured bail. He waived a hearing and paid a $250 fine in Rockland District Court.

The Warren resident said it was an honest mistake. He said he was paying his child support payments but when he switched jobs he went from making payments directly to the state of Missouri to making them to his wife. He said he learned after the arrest that in Missouri when you are making child support payments to the state you can’t switch to direct payments to the children’s mother.

Missouri was unaware he was making the payments, he said, and suspended his Missouri driver’s license and then Maine suspended his license here as part of a reciprocal agreement. Phillips said he had not been notified by either state that his license had been suspended.

He said he cleared up the problem with Missouri and had his license in Maine reinstated within a week.

“I could have hired a lawyer and fought it but the law is the law, even if I didn’t know my license was suspended,” Phillips said. “If I get elected sheriff, I don’t want people who are arrested to claim they simply didn’t know something when they are charged.”

The Maine secretary of state’s office said Wednesday that it would not reinstate a suspended license unless it received the appropriate notification from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Phillips is running as an independent, challenging incumbent Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison. The Democratic incumbent is seeking her third consecutive term.

Dennison said she had no comment on the matter when contacted Wednesday.

“I have no comment. I don’t play those dirty games,” she said.

Phillips said one of his main campaign planks is his belief that 95 percent of the population is made up of honest people who sometimes make mistakes. He said another 4 percent are repeat offenders such as people who deal drugs that police deal with frequently. And the remaining 1 percent are violent predators such as child molesters and murderers.

“We need to focus more on the 5 percent and less on the 95 percent,” he said.

In 2010, Phillips ran as a Republican in a three-way race against Dennison. Phillips finished a distant second, garnering 4,451 votes compared with 9,743 for Dennison and 3,798 for independent candidate Jeffrey Gallagher.

Phillips is a 1992 graduate of Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. After high school, he spent 7½ years in the U.S. Army as a military police officer, including 18 months stationed in South Korea. Phillips later served for seven years as a police officer for the city of Rolla, Missouri.

He currently is a salesman for utility trailers and related equipment.

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