LACONIA — The arrest of a former sheriff's deputy has led to other cases being dropped or overturned.
County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen agreed to vacate the conviction of a Groton man who had pleaded guilty on June 3 to one misdemeanor count of being in control of a vehicle where drugs were being illegally kept because the arresting sheriff's deputy, Justin Blanchette, is facing an unrelated charge himself of raping a prisoner.
Steven Moore, 35, of Groton was one of three men found by Blanchette in the Opechee Park parking lot on Nov. 14, 2014. According to initial news accounts, Moore was accompanied by his brother Nicholas, who was never indicted, and Jack H. Lynch, 22, of Holderness.
According to the motion to vacate the charge against Moore, Guldbrandsen assented to the defense's request to vacate because she agreed that if the information about Blanchette's alleged actions and ultimate indictment had been known, Moore never would have pleaded guilty.
Moore's attorney also noted that he had been doing very well while on probation and was "doing a wonderful job of maintaining his sobriety." Belknap County Judge James O'Neill agreed to vacate Moore's guilty plea on Dec. 15.
Lynch was indicted for one special felony count of possession of a controlled drug – heroin. Although his trial was working its way through the system and there were some suppression arguments surrounding the towing of the car, Guldbrandsen dropped the case against him for the same reason – she couldn't put Blanchette on the stand as a police witness.
According to paperwork obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court, the case began when Blanchette noticed a car in the parking lot and said in his report that when the three male occupants noticed him, they began moving around and seemed to be hiding things.
As he approached the car and introduced himself, Blanchette said he noticed a cord wrapped around passenger Lynch's arm and later allegedly admitted he had put a needle underneath him. When Blanchette asked if there were any weapons in the car, he was allegedly told there was a knife.
Blanchette was indicted for one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault in October and is free on $5,000 cash bail. He is scheduled for a dispositional hearing on Jan. 12.
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