Bill Livezey spent much of his youth and most of his professional career putting himself in harm’s way.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, bad influences and bad decisions led him into a life of alcohol, drugs, and crime that took him down a dangerous road.

Through the intervention of a high school teammate and the involvement of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Livezey became a Christian at age 17. This set him on the path to a 30-year career with the Maine Warden Service, including 20 years in his special investigations unit prosecuting some of the state’s most serious wildlife offenders.

At the height of his undercover work, Livezey became the subject of controversial coverage by the Portland Press Herald this called into question his tactics and ethics in investigating and prosecuting a group of notorious Allagash poachers.

Livezey publicly confronts for the first time what he describes as the ‘fake news’ written about him in the Press Herald and how it put him in personal danger and tarnished his reputation in his new book, ‘Let’s Go For a Ride,” set to be published June 1 by Down East Books. The book also discusses the challenges faced by undercover wardens in pursuing criminals who violate fish and wildlife laws.

Livezey was accused in the Press Herald account, through testimony from people accused of breaking the law, of getting drunk during investigations. He was outraged by the Press Herald’s characterization in the Allagash poaching case that the department would achieve “little results”. The case documented over 300 crimes, including 17 people convicted or charged with multiple Class D and E crimes, and one felony.

“Nobody wants their personal persona trashed,” Livezey said. “When your character is trashed and it’s on a totally false accusation, that’s when it’s just tormenting.”

The coverage also included the release of a photo of Livezey, which the department said could have potentially compromised his personal safety and undercover work. The paper and Colin Woodard, the author of the storystrongly defended the accuracy of their reporting.

“It was horrible for my family and myself,” he said. “Up to that point, I hadn’t seen a completely fake story where you would state things as facts that never happened.”

Due to the negative attention brought to the department after the story was published, the Maine Warden Service terminated all undercover investigations in June 2016 out of concern for the safety of its agents and the integrity of their investigations.

Livezey credits her trust in God, the loyalty of her peers, and the support of her family and friends for helping her persevere through this time.

He and co-writer Daren Worcester offer a compelling inside look into Livezey’s life. Worcester is from Maine and also wrote “Open Season: True Stories of the Maine Warden Service”.

‘Undercover guys usually don’t write books,’ Livezey, 57, said recently from his home in Sherman, raising concerns about the release of sensitive information that could compromise guards or investigations. .

He focuses only on his own cases in the book and omits key details about the Guardians’ investigative methods. The book also uses fictitious names for actual offenders.

Livezey was inspired as a child by TV shows such as “Gentle Ben” and “Flipper.” This led him to dream of a career as a goalkeeper.

However, he took a circuitous route to achieve this goal. Her father was a drug dealer who got into serious trouble with the law and died tragically. Livezey also ended up drinking, doing drugs, and even dealing drugs.

Suffering from what he believed to be anxiety-driven panic attacks, Livezey quit drugs at age 15.

“I knew I was broken. I put on a good facade on the outside because I was quite a happy boy, but there was a lot going on on the inside,” he said.

Positive influences, including his mother and some of his high school football and wrestling coaches, helped him escape that life, he said. The big breakthrough came when Steve Sellars invited Livezey to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes function.

“I’m sad about all the bad decisions I made as a kid, but I guess I’m not embarrassed to reveal it,” Livezey said, “because I look at it and say the Lord m ‘transformed from the direction I was going.’

He then attended Unity College and applied three times to the Maine Warden Service before being accepted and embarking on undercover operations. This work placed him in the presence of the same kind of people with whom he had dealt in his youth.

They often combined alcohol and drugs with significant poaching activities, although some of them simply enjoyed killing, Livezey said. His job was to gain their trust, observe and document their criminal behavior and bring them to justice.

“It’s the stress of undercover work,” Livezey said. “There’s always this constant fear that your cover will be exposed.”

He walked a fine line between claiming to be an illicit hunter from Pennsylvania and protecting his true identity as a Guardian. Livezey had to fake getting drunk with suspects and even commit wildlife law violations to avoid detection.

“Even well into an investigation, they would come to a point where they realized, ‘We’ve committed a lot of crimes in front of Bill [his undercover identity] here, but he didn’t commit any,” Livezey said.

It was a job that had a huge physical and emotional impact on Livezey, Maine’s most senior undercover guard, who was also deeply concerned about his wife Gail and their four children.

He retired in 2020 and now focuses on his family. He and Gail explore the possibilities of becoming stay-at-home parents at a private school.

“Let’s Go for a Ride” ($26.95) is slated for release in June from Down East Books.

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