A Searsport man is suing the town for $250,000 on allegations that he has yet to regain possession of his personal property that police seized in 2008 while investigating his former tenant, a man who was later convicted of taking a classroom of elementary school children hostage at gunpoint.

Court records on file at U.S. District Court in Bangor show Carlton Wiggin of Searsport filed the civil suit in September.

During the January 2011 trial of convicted school gunman Randall Hofland, Hofland identified Wiggin as his landlord for a period of time leading up to his October 2008 arrest. Police detained Hofland after he entered Stockton Springs Elementary School and took a fifth grade class hostage at gunpoint on Halloween of 2008, an offense for which he has since been convicted.

In his complaint, Wiggin alleges that at various times in 2008, police entered his property "for the apparent purpose of executing a search warrant naming a certain Mr. Hofland and the belongings of Mr. Hofland." In his complaint, Wiggin alleges police "negligently and without due care" searched his own property and have since kept possession of items which are not specified in Wiggin's complaint.

"Agents of the Searsport Police Department have continued to detain Mr. Wiggin's property for an unreasonable period of time and have caused damage to Mr. Wiggin's property by doing so," stated Wiggin's attorney, Aaron Blaschke Rowden of Fairfield.

Rowden stated even though the town and the police department have been made aware that the property in question is that of Wiggin and not under Hofland's ownership, police have allowed third parties to remove items belonging to Wiggin and their conditions and locations are unknown to Wiggin.

Because of what Rowden described as the town's continual alienation of Wiggins from his property and possible damage done to said property, Wiggin alleges the town is violating his civil rights. Rowden said his client, under threat of arrest or other legal harm, was unable to access his property.

"Mr. Wiggin has been harmed by such alienation and damage to his property, including loss of value of realty and personal property, loss of use and enjoyment of the same, costs to replace wrongfully alienated property, and other damages," stated Rowden in the complaint. "Mr. Wiggin has also suffered emotional and non-physical harms including loss of reputation, distress, and physical complications and symptoms arising therefrom."

Wiggin's complaint states he is seeking relief from the court in the amount of $250,000, plus his attorney fees.

The attorney for the town, Edward R. Benjamin Jr. of New Gloucester, denied all allegations set forth in Wiggin's complaint with the exception of the one stating Searsport is a municipality in Waldo County and that the town, as a government entity, is capable of being held liable under the law.

Beyond that, Benjamin stated Wiggin has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that the complaint is barred by the statute of limitations. Benjamin also alleges any damages Wiggin may have incurred "were the result of negligence of the plaintiff, whose negligence was equal to or greater than that of the defendant." Benjamin further stated the town's conduct was privileged.

"If any of defendant's acts are found to have been illegal and/or unconstitutional, defendant had no knowledge of such illegality or unconstitutionality at the time of the alleged conduct and at all times was acting in good faith," stated Benjamin. "Defendant municipality has no liability for damages under the doctrine of qualified immunity because the conduct of its employees did not violate clearly established law, therefore any failure to train or supervise could not have been a proximate cause of the plaintiff's damages."

Hofland, 60, is currently serving a 35-year sentence for taking a fifth-grade class hostage at Stockton Springs Elementary School on Halloween of 2008. Following a month-long trial in January 2011, a jury found Hofland guilty on 39 of 40 charges he faced for taking the 11 students hostage.

Eight days prior to the school incident, on the night of Oct. 23, 2008, Hofland was accused of pointing a handgun at former Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson during a routine traffic stop. The same jury that convicted Hofland on the heft of charges he faced stemming from the school kidnapping found him not guilty on the charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon he incurred after his encounter with Danielson.

Hofland fled from police at that time, and a manhunt that began following that incident failed to locate Hofland. His whereabouts remained unknown until he was arrested at the Stockton school.