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“As we continued to monitor the situation, things did not improve and he refused contact.” A little over a month after the search, on May 7, Ireland was issued a summons for 13 counts of animal cruelty.

One pig, found alive but malnourished on his property, was seized and is now in the custody of another farmer.

Increasingly erratic behavior, charges of animal cruelty and other run-ins with the law have sparked concern about Swanville farmer Jerry Ireland, who may or may not be vying for a seat in the House.

Over the last few years, Jerry Ireland has raised his public profile through his nonprofit, United Farmer Veterans.

“He’s a bad dude.” Even those who have supported Ireland are looking for answers. “As a fellow veteran and friend, I am concerned about these allegations,” he said, referring to the animal abuse charges.

“I have talked with several people who invest in the UFV community, and they are concerned as well.” Ireland declined several requests for comment about his legal difficulties.

Four days after he was first charged with animal cruelty, Ireland, along with his wife, Emily, was served with a lawsuit by the town.

In late 2016 as part of his ongoing effort to assist veterans, Ireland had announced a plan to build 300 cottages on farms across Maine where veterans could live. But town officials said he didn’t obtain the proper permits.

“He has this mentality that he’s above the law,” Blood said.

Working with state animal welfare agents, she sought to investigate the treatment of pigs at Ireland’s farm in Swanville, a few miles from downtown Belfast.

Mark Wellman, chief marketing officer for Ireland’s nonprofit organization, United Farmer Veterans, called the allegations “false and absurd.

“At this time the only comment we care to make is that we know the man and his family, his honorable service to our country, and the tremendous leadership and kindness he has shown and provided to Maine veterans,” Wellman said.

They found 12 pigs that had been killed and buried in shallow graves on the property. Ireland was charged in May with 13 counts of animal cruelty, to which he pleaded not guilty – but that case is not his only legal problem.

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