Young Romanian man charged with rape at Weirs Beach residence

LACONIA — A Romanian man charged with raping an 18-year-old woman at his residence at 12 Maple Street in the Weirs section of the city was arraigned in Fourth Laconia Circuit Laconia Division District Court Monday and continues to be held on $6,500 cash only bail.
Miklos Szekely, 23, was arrested Sunday by Laconia Police and charged with one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault of a female acquaintance during the evening hours of September 28 at his residence.
A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9.
Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact the Laconia Police Department or the Laconia Crime Line, 524-1717.

Center Harbor man charged with stealing $750,000 from terminally ill father

CENTER HARBOR — A local man is charged with theft by unauthorized taking for allegedly taking control of nearly $750,000 belonging to his terminally ill father, Clifford Fitzferald Jr..
The New Hampshire Attorney General's has charged Keith C. Fitzgerald, 50, of 166 Follett Road, Center Harbor, with a felony theft charge and alleges that he misused his power of attorney status to transfer the funds to multiple investment accounts.
Fitzgerald entered no plea to the charges in 4th Circuit District Laconia Division District Court on September 18 and waived a probable cause hearing on the charges. He was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and signed a waiver of extradition which allows a defendant to be brought back to the state without further court hearings should they leave the state.
An affidavit filed by Peter Favreau, a N.H. Department of Justice investigator, says that the criminal charges were brought after the N.H. Attorney General's Office received information that Fitzgerald had stolen some of his father's assets.
In January of 2010 the elder Fitzgerald, then living in Florida, was brought to Memorial Sloan Kettenring Hospital in New York, where he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His wife, Ingrid, who was responsible for the management of his financial affairs died in April of 2010.
That same month the elder Fitzgerald executed a statutory power of attorney document naming Keith as his primary agent and the following month executed a Florida durable power of attorney document naming Keith and Clifford Fitzgerald III, Keith's brother, as co-attorneys.
The New York document prohibited Keith Fitzgerald from making major gifts or transfers of property to himself or anyone else and named Clifford Fitzgerald III as monitor who was to provide a record of all transactions made or done on behalf of his father by his brother.
The Florida document, which was issued the same day that the elder Fitzgerald filed a will that equally divided his estate among his children, also barred both brothers from distributing his assets to discharge their own personal obligations. The elder Fitzgerald died on September 15, 2010.
The affidavit says that Keith Fitzgerald was already accessing his father's $1.4 million in assets of May of 2010 and transferred $1 million to a Wells Fargo account and then established multiple accounts, unknown to his father, and had the reports sent to his own address in Center Harbor, and listed his father's address as 89 Tuttle Road, a vacant lot owned by Fitzgerald Investments LLC. Keith Fitzgerald is listed as a managing member of Fitzgerald Investments, which had filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and had listed $570,000 in debts owed to its major creditors.
The largest creditor is listed as Richard Adams of Center Harbor, whom the affidavit says is a longtime friend of Keith Fitzgerald and was owed $175,000.
Investigators say that Adams and Fitzgerald had an arrangement in which money was borrowed from a $175,000 line of credit Adams had with Citizens Bank and that Adams loaned virtually all of the money to Fitzgerald, who signed a $200,000 promissory note which was registered with the Belknap County Registry of Deeds on March of 2010.
The investigators say that every month Fitzgerald made payments to Adams, who used the funds to reduce the money borrowed, and Fitzgerald issued a check for $125,000 on July 28, 2010 to pay off the balance of the debt.
Fitzgerald is represented by attorney Allison Ambrose of Laconia, while Assistant Attorney General Jesse O'Neill, who is assigned to the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau. is prosecuting the case for the state.

Imagine a new art gallery in downtown Laconia

LACONIA — After passing like ships in the night for some years, two local artists —  Maureen Bieniarz-Pond and Dennis Morton — who first met in 2007 only to part ways once again, have reunited as partners in the Imagine Gallery, which opened last month on Vintage Row downtown.

Bieniarz-Pond said that while their children went to the Laconia schools together the two first met in 2007 when she opened her gallery on Canal Street and invited Morton to be a featured artists. "He brought a van full of paintings," she recalled. By the time the gallery closed a few years a few years later, Morton, who has shuttled back and forth between the mainland and Hawaii for some time, had returned to the islands, where he enjoyed a career as a painter of portraits and landscapes.

As Bieniarz-Pond pondered reopening the gallery, Morton returned, along with the proceeds from the sale of one of his major works. "It helped get this gallery started," he remarked. The two rented a high-ceiling space in the McIntyre Block, consisting of a gallery flanked by a smaller workroom, a small shed Morton intends for a portrait studio and a basement, where they will hold classes and parties. Morton has configured the outdoor space between the gallery and shed as a patio, where he likes to hang his work in natural light, weather permitting.

Already the works of a baker's dozen artists, including the oils and photographs of Bieniarz-Pond and bold landscapes and sensitive portraits of Morton, are on display. Jasmyn Gray, familiar to those who walk the WOW Trail and ,Larry Frates, whose "Festival of Pumpkins" will grace the upcoming festival, are represented along with painters in different mediums Penny Burke, Gerri Harvey, Cam Sinclair, Michael Cowart and Mary Villaume. There is also photography by Joni Shea, pottery by Mandy Bassett and raku, hand shaped Japanese pottery used in the tea ceremony, by Steve Hayden, one of the sculptors featured on the Sculpture Walk in Meredith.

Bieniarz-Pond said that she aimed to keep it simple by showing the work of a handful of artists, but as word spread she and Morton found themselves moving their own work to make room for that of other artists. Each month the gallery will feature an "artist of the month" selected by the Lakes Region Arts Association.

Bieniarz-Pond is eager to offer Sip 'n Dip parties, open to all who are provided with the supplies they require but must bring the drink they prefer, where everyone leaves with a finished painting.

Morton anticipates teaching landscape and portrait painting. His grandmother assured him he began drawing as a four year old but he said he only made his career in art after realizing he was "a mule in a horse race" as a psychology major at Keene State College. He studied and worked with Richard Whitney of Stoddard, New Hampshire, counted among the finest portrait painters in the country, whose images of governors John Sununu Judd Gregg hang in the New Hampshire Statehouse.

Bieniarz-Pond and Morton agreed the gallery has gotten off to a good start and said they were looking forward to the turning of the leaves, which they expected would bring lots of visitors with an eye for fine art to the the Lakes Region. The Imagine Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed on Mondays