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King's Grant owner sues Gilford officials over 2011 raid

CONCORD — Will Drew, the owner of Kelsey's at the Grant, the watering hole and exotic-dancing night club in Gilford, has filed suit against the state of New Hampshire and the town of Gilford, along with half a dozen agents of each, charging that their actions before and after October 18, 2011 when the New Hampshire Drug Task Force raided the nightclub, then operating under independent management as Mardi Gras North, violated his constitutional rights and damaged his reputation.

Historically, Drew's property has been known as King's Grant Inn.

The suit names the Drug Task Force, together with James Norris, its commander, and Adam Fanjoy, one of its agents, as well as the town, its then selectmen — John O'Brien, Gus Benavides and Kevin Hayes — and town administrator Scott Dunn. All persons are named both individually and in their official capacities. Claiming losses to his business and reputation, Drew seeks compensatory, enhanced compensatory and damages against the defendants jointly and severally. He has asked for a jury trial.

Filed by attorney David Bownes of Laconia, the suit charges that the Drug Task Force, accompanied by agents of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission and officials of the town of Gilford, "conducted a broad search of the premises which plainly exceeded the scope and authority of the warrant" in violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution, by which all persons are secured against "unreasonable searches and seizures" and guaranteed "due process" and "equal protection" of the law.

Furthermore, following the raid on the club and proceedings before the Liquor Commission, Bownes alleges that Dunn and the selectmen "used artifice and pretext" for more than a year to deny Drew's application for a live entertainment license that included exotic dancing, in clear violation of his first amendment rights. In 2003, when a different Board of Selectmen in Gilford denied a similar application, Drew, who was represented by Bownes, prevailed in federal court, where Judge Steven McAuliffe struck down the town's licensing policy on exotic dancing as a "prior restraint on a particular type of artistic speech."

The current suit stems from an investigation into drug trafficking at the night club, that began in June, 2011. During the investigation undercover agents of the Drug Task Force purchased illicit drugs from a number of female dancers working at the club.

Though Drew was not involved in the management of Mardi Gras North, the operators were using his liquor license.

In October, Fanjoy obtained a warrant to search the club for illicit drugs, drug paraphernalia, items, documents and records related to drug trafficking, evidence of proceeds from drug sales or of resources for drug purchases, items identifying the occupants and owners of the property, devices for monitoring police communications and firearms, ammunition and dangerous weapons. Fanjoy also secured arrest warrants for six employees of the club.

The suit claims that the Drug Task Force and its agents never requested "an administrative warrant for the search of the premises or asked that any independent state or town authorities be permitted to inspect the premises.

Bownes notes that at least four agents of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission conducted an inspection at the club. Likewise, he claims that the Gilford selectmen, along with the town administrator, police chief, fire chief, code enforcement officer and director of Public Works also entered the building with "the sole purpose of inspecting the interior of the commercial building for town code violations contrary to the clear mandate of the search warrant and contrary to established law." The suit charges that neither the inspections to investigate violations of liquor laws or town codes "were supported by probable cause" and both were undertaken in violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments.

The day after the search the Board of Selectmen asked the Liquor Commission to revoke Drew's license. The commission charged Drew with seven violations of liquor laws and, following a hearing in May, 2012, found evidence of three — serving an intoxicated patron, allowing an employee to drink while working, and giving away free drinks — and imposed a fine of $350 and suspended his license for three days.

In July, Drew applied for a license to stage exotic dancing. Dunn presented him with a list of a dozen densely worded questions and "strongly suggested" he address them. He asked Drew to provide photo identification of managerial employees, licenses for presenting copyrighted music and copies of all citations, notices and decisions issued by the Liquor Commission to all businesses entities operating under his jurisdiction at 15 Kimball Road. "Although you are not legally required to answer these questions," Dunn closed, I anticipate that any refusal on your part to demonstrate a genuine sense of cooperation in dealing with these matters will likely result in the denial of your license. Furthermore," he continued, "your responses will be used by me in making my final recommendation to the Board of Selectmen on your application."

Bownes describes the questions as "simply a pretext in that he (Dunn) had expressed both publicly and privately in the past that he would do all in his power to ensure that Kelsey's at the Grant was not able to obtain a live entertainment license that included exotic dancing." Several of the questions, Bownes noted, referred to allegations for which the Liquor Commission found insufficient evidence.

The suit alleges that when the board considered the application Dunn said that it should be denied "based principally and solely on his view that exotic dancing in the town of Gilford should not be permitted under any conditions." With Benavides dissenting, the board granted Drew a license for live entertainment, but specifically excluded exotic dancing. While O'Brien and Hayes are named for wrongfully inspecting the premises and hindering Drew's application, Benavides is not. Drew submitted a fresh application on behalf of Lakes Region Cafe and Tavern in October, 2013 and, advised by legal counsel that denial would violate his first amendment rights, the board granted it. The club has featured exotic dancing since November 2013.

Throughout consideration of Drew's license application the suit alleges that Dunn and the selectmen maliciously "caused to be published" false and defamatory statements about the property at 15 Kimball Road, including that it had "the elements of a methamphetamine lab," was used for "manufacturing, possession, use, sale and distribution of illegal drugs, and had repeatedly violated liquor laws. As a result Drew "suffered a loss to his reputation and good standing in the community."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 11:17

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Hearing on motion to dismiss charges against Billy Baer is Nov. 10

CIRCUIT COURT — A judicial hearing for the Gilford man who is facing three misdemeanor charges as a result of his alleged illegal actions at a school board meeting has been postponed until November 10.

William "Billy" Baer was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct after he allegedly disrupted a school board meeting, where he went to complain about a book that was assigned to his daughter, who was in ninth grade at the time.

Baer's attorney has filed with the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division motions to dismiss all three charges. The state has objected.

The hearing was supposed to have been held at 8:30 a.m. this morning but both parties agreed to a continuance to allow them to process the information gathered at recent depositions.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 11:48

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Bailey, Garfield & Lewandoski honored in Belmont

BELMONT — The fourth annual Community Heritage Awards were given last night by Heritage Commission Chair Linda Frawley and Selectboard Chair Ruth Mooney to three people who "make Belmont Belmont."

Everett Bailey was recognized for his outstanding contribution to traditional crafts and rural New Hampshire. After retiring from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bailey began learning and has since mastered the art of Shaker broom making.

He teaches the story of Shaker and innovation and entrepreneurship at the Canterbury Shaker Village, sells his brooms at its store through the League of New Hampshire and gives yearly workshops.

Bailey was active for 14 years in the Belmont Baseball Organization.

Thomas Garfield was recognized for his regional leadership and outstanding service to town-meeting tradition.

Garfield was first elected town moderator in 2004 and is noted for his fair administration of town meeting with tact and humor. He served during the transition from traditional town meeting to Belmont's transition to SB-2 or being an Official Ballot community.

Garfield recently retired as the executive vice president at the Bank of New Hampshire in Laconia, served as chairman of the Belknap Economic Development Council, on the board of the LRGHealthcare, on the Lakes Region Community College Advisory Council and Lakes Region Rotary.

Chester A. Lewandoski was recognized for his exceptional committee to baseball, Belmont and the community.

Years ago, he attended a gathering of Little League parents to see if they had uniforms and spent the next 37 years a sponsor. His grandson Jordan Cote is on a farm team for the New York Yankees.

Lewandoski continues to be an Old Home Day supporter and holds down the back page of their annual publication. He is also very active in the Belmont Rotary.

CUTLINE: (Heritage awards) Everett Bailey, Selectman Ruth Mooney, Chester Lewandoski and Thomas Garfield at the Belmont Selectboard meeting last night. Bailey, Lewandoski and Garfield were the recipients of the Belmont Heritage Commissions Fourth Annual Community Heritage Awards. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 11:45

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Gilmanton man faces third DWI charge this year

CIRCUIT COURT — A Gilmanton man is being held on $5,000 cash-only bail after being charged Friday afternoon with his third driving while intoxicated offense this year.

Richard Kelley, of Middle Route, is charged with one count of driving while intoxicated — subsequent offense, a violation of the open container laws, driving with a suspended registration, and driving after being deemed a habitual offender.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court say the police received a call at 12:15 p.m. from someone who reported a car at the intersection of Gale Road and Middle Route was running and it appeared the driver was passed out while behind the wheel.

When police arrived the car was still at the intersection. When the officer looked in the car he could see the car was still in drive and Kelley was allegedly looking out the passenger-side window.

The officer reported seeing two bottles of liquor on the center console — one that was about half empty and one that was missing a small amount. When the driver rolled down his window, the officer said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol and that Kelley appeared disoriented with bloodshot eyes.

When the officer told Kelley to put the car in park and turn off the engine, Kelley allegedly turned it off but didn't put it in park.

The car starting rolling backwards and the office wrote in his affidavit that he had to repeatedly instruct Kelley to step on the brake and put the car in park.

Affidavits said Kelley had trouble getting out of the car and, after being read his rights he refused any field sobriety tests. The arresting officer noted Kelley had "dexterity issues" while signing his name.

According to information from the N.H. Department of Safety, Kelley pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated on March 27, 2014 in Plymouth District Court and has his license suspended. In May of 2014 his right to operate was revoked for one year.

In June of 2014, Kelley pleaded guilty to one count of driving while intoxicated and one count of driving after his license was revoked In Manchester District Court. On June 16, the Department of Motor Vehicles determined him to be a habitual offender.

In Court yesterday, the Gilmanton prosecutor asked for $1,000 cash bail.

Kelley's attorney asked for personal recognizance bail saying her client was sick, has had open heart surgery and was scheduled for back surgery.

Judge Jim Carroll disagreed with both of them and set bail at $5,000 saying he felt Kelley was a danger to himself and others.

He has a probable cause hearing scheduled for October 30.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 11:41

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