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AG determines Youssef violated state election law

CONCORD — The state Attorney General's Office has determined that unsuccessful state Senate Republican candidate Josh Youssef of Laconia violated the Provisions for the Purity of Elections during his campaign last year by creating a blog under the name of his ex-wife's attorney.

Stephen LaBonte from the Civil Bureau of the A.G.'s Office ordered Youssef to cease and desist operating the edmoscablog.com or face possible criminal charges.

"Given the similar website design and layout it appears as though if someone had read "'edmoscablog.com'" they could have reasonably thought the blog was written by Ed Mosca.

"The deceptive nature of your blog could have easily misled viewers, in violation of RSA 666.6," LaBonte wrote.

Mosca represented Youssef's wife during their acrimonious divorce — parts of which played out in public after Youssef announced his candidacy for the seat in the newly redistricted Senate District 7. At the time, Mosca was also an attorney who was representing former House Speaker Bill O'Brien.

Youssef, of Laconia, won in a primary race against Bill Grimm, of Franklin, but lost in the general election to Democrat Andrew Hosmer, also of Laconia.

In a ruling issued Aug. 6, LaBonte said investigators determined the fake blog was purchased from GoDaddy and had the same billing address as Same Day Computer – Youssef's business. The investigator reported to LaBonte that when he called the telephone number listed on the GoDaddy purchase he was able to reach Youssef. Mosca filed his complaint in February, 2012 — three months after Hosmer beat Youssef 15,573 to 10,768.

Investigators said the website was created on Sept. 6, 2012 and expires on Sept. 6, 2013.

RSA 666.6 is a section in election law statutes that refers to illegal influence in elections and prohibits falsely representing someone else for the purpose of influencing an election.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 12:38

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Hearing Set/Charges Clarified in Mboro

MOULTONBOROUGH — A public hearing to determine whether two members of the Planning Board — Josh Bartklett and Judy Ryerson — should be removed from office will be held before the Board of Selectmen on Monday, Sept. 9, beginning at 1 p.m.

After Bartlett and Ryerson declined an offer from the selectboard to resign, the hearing was scheduled under the statute authorizing the selectmen to remove both appointed and elected members of land use boards — the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) — for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office."

The format of the hearing provides 30 minutes for the selectboard to present the charges, 30 minutes for the accused to respond and time for the selectmen to deliberate. The case against Bartlett is scheduled to be presented at 1 p.m. and against Ryerson at 3:30 p.m. Town Counsel Peter Minkow will serve as an adviser to the selectboard.

The selectboard outlined issues to be considered, with the caveat that the proceedings would not necessarily be confined to them, in certified letters to Bartlett and Ryerson dated Aug. 8 and released to the public yesterday. Charges against both stem from their actions on July 10, when the Planning Board approved construction of an observation tower on Red Hill by Bob and Cathy Williams, doing business as Bear's Nest Trail, LLC. However, the selectboard also alleges that Bartlett behaved improperly at an earlier hearing before the Planning Board while Ryerson neglected her duty by failing to attend eight of the last 12 board meetings.

The Williamses built the 900-square foot lookout tower, with an average height of 27 feet, around 1,200 feet up the east flank of Red Hill without obtaining the necessary permits from the ZBA, Planning Board and Building Inspector. After failing to seek permission they sought forgiveness, by asking the ZBA and Planning Board to approve the project after the fact.

The ZBA granted a variance and referred the case to the Planning Board for a conditional use permit (CUP). The board was directed to apply "the de novo standard," that is to approach the issue as if the tower had not been built. To grant the CUP, the board was required to find that the project met 11 criteria.

The minutes record that Peter Jensen, the acting chairman, "polled" the seven members of the board on the 11 criteria. Two of the 11 failed when the board split evenly — three-to-three — with Bartlett abstaining and Ryerson voting no. However, neither believed it was the best interest of the town to require the structure be dismantled. Ryerson changed her "no" to "yes," breaking the stalemate in the "poll," and Bartlett offered a motion to grant the CUP, which carried five-to-two.

Bartlett, the selectmen allege, failed to act by twice abstaining when the board was polled on the 11 criteria. The charge reads that "in failing to recuse yourself, which is to be done for a statutory conflict of interest or bias, and allowing an alternate to be seated to act in your stead you deprived the community of the full and faithful performance of your duties." Moreover, he also stands accused of failing to apply the de novo standard as well as questioning the decision of the ZBA and making "disparaging remarks" about code enforcement process.

Furthermore, the selectmen claim that throughout the hearing on Bear's Nest Trail, LLC's request and an earlier hearing on the application of Rock Pile Real Estate, LLC to operate a bakery on Governor Wentworth Highway Bartlett gave "cause to applicants to fear they will not receive a fair and reasonable review of their requests."

Bartlett, the selectboard conclude, failed to meet his fiduciary responsibilities "by depriving applicants of a full and reasonable hearing," "exhibiting bias," and disparaging the zoning ordinance and those who administer it. Consequently, the selectmen claim "you have created substantial legal risk to the community."

Meanwhile, Ryerson is charged with having changed her vote on the Williamses' application, "without foundation," despite having concluded that they failed to demonstrate there was no "practicable alternative" to the project as completed. The selectboard notes that but for Ryerson changing her vote, the Planning Board could not have granted the CUP. The selectmen allege that, like Bartlett, Ryerson failed to meet her fiduciary responsibilities, since her action "created substantial legal risk tot eh community."

Bartlett said yesterday that he has referred the matter to his attorney. Ryerson said that she has not retained an attorney, but has sought informal legal advice.

Tomorrow night the Planning Board will hold a special meeting at the request of Bartlett and Ryerson and a third member, Paul Punturieri, to discuss "the recent events that have led to the requested resignation of two members"

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 02:02

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Overheated burner causes fire on Fair Street

LACONIA – A two-alarm fire at a house on the corner of Clay and Fair streets Saturday morning was apparently started by a stove burner.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that a tenant in the rear apartment of 37 Fair St. was heating water on an electric stove but had put the pan of water on one of the unheated burners.

He said the "on" burner continued to heat and melted the wires in the control panel which started a fire. He said the fire burned upward and ignited the cabinets which in turn ignited the combustible ceiling tile in the kitchen.

The fire spread laterally across the ceiling, Erickson said, and began to burn into the wall and attic.

On-duty supervisor Capt. Bob Landry called for a first-alarm because of the number of calls emergency officials fielded regarding the fire and called for a second alarm when he saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house.

Erickson said firefighters knocked down the fire almost immediately and opened the ceiling to cut off any fire extension into the rest of the home. He said the owner lives in the front apartment facing Fair Street and her portion of the home was relatively undamaged.

Overall the chief estimated the blaze to have done about $30,000 in damage, but acknowledged the number could be on the low side.

He said everyone in the home was able to get out without injury.

One Belmont firefighter suffered a broken finger while working in the cellar.

Erickson said structures in city's South End are old wood construction and the houses are very close to each other. He said fires in the area, on windy and dry days like Saturday, run a high risk of quickly spreading to surrounding buildings.

He also said the department wasn't on any other calls when the fire was reported at 9:05 a.m. and they were able to respond with six firefighters within minutes. Firefighters cleared the area at 10:30 a.m.

Erickson said firefighters from Gilford, Belmont and Tilton-Northfield assisted at the scene and other communities were called to either help on Fair Street or cover the rest of the city.

CUTLINE - (Fair Street fire) Fire hoses stretch into the Clay Street side of a two-family home Saturday morning. Firefighters extinguished the two alarm blaze that started on a stove that was reported at 9:05 a.m.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 02:23

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Man charged with second degree assault in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — A man who faces one count of second-degree assault for allegedly choking a woman at her Crystal Lake Road home Sunday afternoon is free on $15,000 personal recognizance bail.

Affidavits submitted yesterday to the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, said Jacob LaBonte, 24, 43 Upland Drive in Gilford was allegedly at the victim's home and causing a disturbance.

Someone from the house called 9-1-1 at 3:45 p.m. and between the time 9-1-1 was called and police arrived LaBonte allegedly put his hands around the woman's neck and applied enough pressure to cut off her air supply.

LaBonte fled into the nearby woods. Gilmanton and a K-9 from the Alton Police attempted to find LaBonte but were initially unsuccessful, said Prosecutor David Estes. He said one of the officers heard a noise and found him.

Estes said LaBonte has a number of criminal convictions dating back to 2007, including possession of drugs, stemming from appearances in Laconia District Court and the Belknap County Superior Court, resisting arrest in 2011, and the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 2012. He said the arresting officer noted LaBonte had alcohol on his breath but he could not say whether or not he was impaired.

LaBonte's attorney said he is employed and recently bought a car for which he has car and insurance payments. She said he has two children, pays child support, and lives with his parents.

She said LaBonte "maintains his innocence," will waive extradition, and noted he has never failed to appear in court.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered LaBonte to stay out of Gilmanton, not to consume any alcohol or drugs, and that he be immediately detained if found to be consuming alcohol.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 02:10

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