AND IS SHE THROWING THE WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF UNDER THE BUS TO COVER HER CRIMES?
Most of you who follow this website are familiar with the case of Vladek Filler, formerly of Gouldsboro, Maine. Filler was engaged in a child custody dispute for his two children when he became relentlessly pursued by prosecutor Mary Kellett for allegations of sexual assault made by his estranged wife, Ligia.
Kellett got a conviction in the case but it was set aside and overturned by the State Supreme Court due to prosecutorial misconduct on her part. Subsequently, Filler filed a Bar complaint against Kellett, where a three member bar panel ultimately found her guilty of nine instances of misconduct and conduct unbecoming an attorney. That resulted in the historic move of Kellett being the first prosecutor in the history of Maine to be referred to the State Supreme Court for disciplinary hearings that could result in the suspension of her license to practice law.
One of the matters before the Supreme Court is the fact that Kellett instructed law enforcement officers not to comply with valid subpoenas from Filler’s attorney to produce evidence held by the police departments relevant to Ligia Filler’s credibility as a witness. Evidence such as a withheld witness statement written by Ligia Filler, 911 tapes of her calls, and video and audio recordings of Ligia Filler making statements and threats against Vladek Filler and police officials. Those records were repeatedly requested and eventually the Court had to Order Kellett to turn them over to defense. To put it nicely, Kellett failed to do so, even after repeated requests from Filler’s attorney months after the Court Order. Put directly Kellett ignored the Order and simply refused to turn over the material to defense.
Among other violations, the Disciplinary Panel found Kellett guilty of suppressing and not providing exculpatory evidence. If that finding is not disturbing enough, a crucial video and audio recording that was Court Ordered was later destroyed without any chance of ever being produced to defense after Kellett told Filler’s attorney she would not provide it to him.
The recording was of an April 24, 2007 incident where two Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies apprehended Ligia Filler and secured her in the back of a cruiser which had a video camera running and recording all her statements and accusations. Filler’s Bar complaint alleged that the recording contained exculpatory statements by his accuser. The cruiser recording was not the only one made at the time as the responding Deputy also used his pocket recorder to captured 1 ½ hours of the incident in non-continuous bits and pieces.
Initially, Kellett did not even disclose the April 24, 2007 incident to defense despite her office obtaining the incident report just a few weeks later. In October of 2007 Kellett finally provided a copy of a brief incident report after defense made specific discovery requests. It took over 1 year of further requests, a discovery motion, a Court Order, and several more months of demands and threats of sanctions before Kellett would provide defense with a copy of the incomplete and chopped up audio recording captured by the Deputy’s pocket recorder.
The continuous and unedited audio recording which was captured by the video recording system inside the Deputy’s cruiser was withheld and denied to defense. Even months after the Court Order was issued for its production, Kellett told Filler’s attorney Daniel Pileggi that the video tape didn’t really show anything and couldn’t be copied for defense (despite a Court Order). Kellett then tried to mislead Filler’s defense attorney by claiming the chopped up audio recording she was willing to provide was copied directly from the video tape, hence could not contain anything different than the video tape that was being withheld. She told Filler’s attorney that if he still wanted to see the video that “didn’t show anything” he should make his own arrangements and “go watch it”. As it turned out none of what Kellett represented to Filler’s attorney was true.
Kellett’s position now is that the Court Ordered 911 tapes and video/audio recordings were not provided because of Washington County Sheriff’s Department’s insubordination to DA office’s requests for all the material. Essentially, Kellett is blaming Washington County Sheriff’s Department for mishandling and even destroying crucial evidence in a major felony case months after the Court Ordered its production, after Kellett alleges she tried to obtain it, and after numerous defense subpoenas that were not complied with.
Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Willey testified before the Bar’s Disciplinary Panel that almost immediately after the April 24, 2007 incident he quickly acted to preserve all audio and video recordings he made because he knew all this evidence was important in a case where criminal charges were filed. He wrote up his report and made copies of his digital audio recording from his pocket recorder on to a CD.
He then hand delivered his report to Mary Kellett’s office where it was stamped “Received May 29, 2007”. He testified that his cruiser mounted recording system at the time was a low tech standard VHS taping system. He readily located the VHS recording and had a chance to review the lengthy tape although not all the way to the end. He testified the video tape was eventually destroyed.
Vladek Filler’s Bar complaint alleges that months after the criminal trial and during a pending retrial, in a telephone conversation Deputy Willey suggested to Filler that the video recording in question might be made available; that it was not in his physical possession at the time and that everything was provided to Kellett’s office. Willey told Filler he needed to direct all his requests to Kellett’s office and get their approval even for the deputy’s compliance with any future defense subpoenas.
Filler’s defense attorney Daniel Pileggi testified that he repeatedly tried to obtain the video tape or even have an opportunity to view it, but it was never made available to him by Mary Kellett’s office nor by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Pileggi made numerous discovery requests to Kellett, and further issued subpoenas to Kellett’s investigator Stephen McFarland, his co-investigator in the case Guy Wycoff, and to Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Willey. After all his requests were ignored, Pileggi was granted a Court Order and sent numerous additional requests demanding Kellett’s compliance. Filler’s Bar Complaint included copies of several discovery requests and subpoenas. Pileggi subpoenaed Deputy Willey a second time to produce the withheld video tape for Filler’s January 2009 trial but again it was not provided. Pileggi told the Disciplinary Panel that eventually he learned the video tape was destroyed which usually happens when prosecution does not request for it to be produced.
It would seem unlikely for Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy to take it upon himself to destroy a vital video tape which existed throughout 1 ½ years of repeated requests, several subpoenas, and a Court Order in light of the deputy’s clear testimony that he immediately understood the importance of all the evidence he had in his possession and took specific steps to preserve it.
But if Mary Kellett’s explanation is true and her office is absolved of responsibility through the upcoming Supreme Court proceedings then the failure to produce all the Court Ordered 911 tapes, audio, and video recordings will fall directly on the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. It would be a violation for both, the exculpatory 911 recordings that were withheld from Filler in violation of a Court Order, and for the video tape which was actually destroyed while in custody of the Sheriff’s Department despite being:
• Readily located
• Low tech VHS tape
• Known to be important/sought after evidence in a major class A Felony case
Despite the seriousness of the Bar Panel’s historic decision against Kellett and Bar Counsel’s complaint to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court calling Kellett’s misconduct “inexcusable”, if Kellett’s version of events is accepted or not addressed by the Supreme Court judge, then it would leave numerous law enforcement agencies responsible for taking it upon themselves to violate valid defense subpoenas and even violate Kellett’s alleged instructions for their compliance.
In the case of Washington County Sheriff’s Department, the responsibility would include destroying exculpatory Court Ordered evidence in violation of criminal statutes.
A Voice for Men News Director Robert O’Hara contacted Washington County Sheriff Donny Smith’s office for a comment on this. He reached Deputy Willey who refused comment. O’Hara also sent an email to the Washington County Sheriff which went unanswered.
The concerns about this case right now is that after several years of malicious prosecution against Vladek Filler and a number of other men, it appears as though Kellett might be orchestrating a back room deal to avoid responsibility for those abuses.
The only way to prevent this is for there to be a public, comprehensive disciplinary hearing of Kellett’s case before Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice. Additionally, the Bar of Overseers, through Bar Counsel Scott Davis must seek full punishment for the “inexcusable” prosecutorial misconduct that has already been established at the Bar hearing.
There are further ramifications of allowing Kellett off the hook without a full trial and punishment.
She has prosecuted 1100 cases in just 10 years and if not removed she will be allowed to have at least another 25 year remaining career to continue practicing her ideological interpretations of criminal rules, court rulings, orders, and high court decisions.
Kellett has consistently refused to take any responsibility whatsoever for her own conduct which has been substantiated by the Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Overseers of the Bar. Kellett told the Disciplinary Panel she would not do anything differently in the future as she has a philosophical disagreement with the trial Court and the Supreme Court judgment concerning her conduct.
Through a plea deal with Bar Counsel or through a negotiated and controlled weak case presentation, a Ruling by the Supreme Court Justice could absolve Kellett of all her misconduct and further embolden her to legally terrorize other innocent victims like Vladek Filler.
Her deal, should it happen, will shift the blame for the illegal withholding and disposal of exculpatory evidence onto other law enforcement agencies and police officials who were simply following her orders, as well as onto defense attorneys like Daniel Pileggi.
Kellett is the first prosecutor in Maine’s history to face disciplinary proceedings for misconduct, the significance of which cannot be overstated. Allowing her to be absolved or even to continue practicing law as a prosecutor following these proceedings would send the most detrimental message to the entire legal and law enforcement community in Maine and beyond. It would be the ultimate betrayal by the Board of Overseers of the Bar and the Supreme Court of all ethical prosecutors, defense attorneys, police officers, and the citizens who live or visit Maine.