Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola, who was facing an investigation into his use of campaign funds, apparently killed himself, police said.
DiPaola was found dead of a single gunshot wound to his head Saturday about 12:30 p.m. at Lafayette Resorts in Wells, a coastal town in southern Maine, about 30 miles south of Portland.
A hotel manager found DiPaola on his bed after cleaning staff discovered the dead bolt was activated and DiPaola failed to check out, police said. The gun believed to be the one DiPaola used was found in the room, and he left a multiple-page note, Wells police said.
The Middlesex sheriff's office confirmed DiPaola's death in a statement and said the office will operate under Special Sheriff John Granara.
The 57-year-old DiPaola recently announced he was retiring and was able to take advantage of a state pension law that allows retirees to run for paid elective office without losing pensions.
DiPaola, a Democrat who had just won re-election in November, could have accepted an annual pension of $98,500 in addition to his sheriff's pay of $123,000 next year. But after the Boston Globe asked about the pension, he said he could not in good conscience accept both, even though it's legal.
He said he would resign in January rather than take a pension in addition to his salary.
Gov. Deval Patrick, who criticized DiPaola's initial plan to take a pension and pay, later praised him for resigning.
Recently, the Massachusetts attorney general's office said it was investigating allegations of improper use of campaign funds by DiPaola. In addition, the state ethics commission was investigating whether sheriff's office employees were raising money for DiPaola's political committee.
"This is a shocking and tragic event," Patrick said in a statement. "Sheriff DiPaola had a 30-year record of public service. Tonight we honor that service and pray for his family."
DiPaola was first elected sheriff in 1996 and sworn in on Nov. 27 of that year, exactly 14 years before his death. Patrick will appoint a replacement.
DiPaola had previously served two years as a state representative for Malden's 36th Middlesex District. He was an 18-year veteran of the Malden Police Department.
This program aired on November 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.