LACONIA — Four area men were indicted by a Belknap County grand jury last week for "rioting" for their roles in an assault on a fifth man while all five were incarcerated in the county jail. Rioting is defined by state law as two or more persons assembling for the purpose of engaging in tumultuous or violent conduct.
Jason Fournier, 23, whose last known address was in Meredith; Zackarie Lesko-Lebeau, 22, whose last known address was in Belmont; Andrew Soboleski, 20, whose last known address was in Laconia; and Zacharie Farrell, 21, whose last known address was in Gilmanton are also charged with one count each of assault by prisoners.
All of the new charges are felonies.
According to Superintendent Daniel Ward, all four of the accused and the victim were incarcerated in the same medium security ward at the Belknap County Jail on or about June 7 and all were accused or convicted of a variety of crimes.
According to a Department of Corrections spokesman, Fournier was awaiting trial for theft, Soboleski was awaiting trial for burglary, Farrell was awaiting trial for burglary, and the victim was awaiting trial for armed robbery. He had no record for Lesko-Lebeau meaning he had likely never been sentenced to the N.H. State Prison.
As of yesterday Soboleski is in the N.H. State Prison in Berlin and the victim is in the N.H. State Prison in Concord. Fournier and Farrell are on probation and there is no record of Lesko-Lebeau.
Ward said it appears that on June 7, 2013 the four ganged up on the victim, who he said was not seriously injured. He said guards were able to break up the fight without calling the Sheriff's Department or the Laconia Police for assistance.
Ward said he doesn't know what triggered the fight and fighting is a rather common occurrence. He said the four alleged aggressors appeared before an internal disciplinary board and all were punished.
He said the victim was relocated to a separate unit for his own safety.
"Our job is to keep them secure and safe until release," he said, saying the Department of Corrections has zero tolerance for fighting.
He said other inmates just stood around and watched.
"They generally don't want to get involved," he said "although they will occasionally call the control room to report the fight."
He said each mens' medium security wards houses 16 prisoners.
As of yesterday, Ward said he had 154 men and women incarcerated through Belknap County. He said 25 of the men had to be transferred to different county jails in order to avoid crowding and the ones who were transferred are serving sentences. The jail was built to hold 87 people.
Ward said he doesn't like to have people who are awaiting trial leave Belknap County because it's too expensive to transport them to and from the courthouses in Laconia.