LACONIA — A city man who became entwined with a Tilton Police officer regarding a stolen merchandise card pleaded guilty yesterday in the Belknap County Superior Court to one count of receiving stolen property.
Judge James O'Neill sentenced Richard McNeil, 40, formerly of Laconia to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison — all suspended — pending five years of good behavior. McNeil was also ordered to undergo substance abuse treatment.
McNeil, along with the man who actually stole the card, Richard Miner, was ordered to pay back $2,000 to the victim.
Miner pleaded guilty in August of 2014 to receiving stolen property and was released from the Belknap County House of Corrections on April 1, 2015.
According to records, Miner stole the card from a Tilton homeowner and contacted McNeil about selling it. At the time, Minor and McNeil were roommates.
McNeil, according to an investigation into the theft conducted by the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department, allegedly called former Tilton Det. Crp. Mathew Dawson and asked him if he knew anyone who could use it. (It was a Lowe's rebate card good only for merchandise).
According to Dawson's statements to investigators, McNeil assured him it was not stolen and Dawson told a relative about the card. The relative allegedly purchased it from McNeil for $600.
The card was used once in Gilford for a small purchase and once in Littleton for the balance.
By pleading guilty today to receiving stolen property, McNeil acknowledges he knew or should have known the card was stolen.
In court yesterday, McNeil, through his lawyer William Woodbury, told Judge James O'Neill that he was an addict. He said he failed to appear for a court date because he had relapsed while in Manchester sometime in April and spent a month in both Massachusetts General Hospital and a Manchester Hospital. He said when he was able to fully be aware of his circumstances he called his parole officer. McNeil was returned to the N.H. State Prison for a 30-day parole setback but has since been released.
As a result of his overdose, McNeil told the judge he had become involved in a residential treatment program called Teen Challenge, which is a 15-month residential program with an option to stay as an intern for an additional six months.
He said he had been living there since May 5.
McNeil told Judge O'Neill that prison was a "crazy experience" and that he completed programs while he was there but they just weren't long enough. He said his new program is Christian-based and is helping him to address the feelings and problems he had been using drugs and alcohol to masquerade.
"I am at your mercy," he told Judge O'Neill and agreed with him that if he didn't complete the program he would go to prison.
Grafton County Prosecutor Mary Bleier said that McNeil's most recent sentence would be served consecutively to his current one (for which he is on parole) should he mess up again. He must be of good behavior for five years.
"I'm giving you a shot again to straighten out your life," said Judge O'Neill. "I sincerely hope you do so."
Because of his involvement with McNeil, Dawson was placed on paid administrative leave for six months while the Merrimack County Sheriff's Office and the N.H. State Police investigated the case.
Upon his return to work, Dawson was demoted to patrol officer and removed from the detective bureau.
Neither he or his relative Ted Dawson have been charged with any wrongdoing by police.