2nd man indicted in credit card theft that involved police officer

HAVERHILL — A second Laconia man has been indicted by a Grafton County grand jury for his role in the June 2013 theft of a credit card that ended up in the hands of a close family member of a former Tilton police corporal.

Richard A. McNeil, 40, of 18A Charles St. was indicted earlier this week for one count of receiving stolen property – a Lowe’s rebate card that was stolen from a Tilton homeowner by Richard Miner who was working as a subcontractor in the victim’s home.

Miner pleaded guilty in August to one count of receiving stolen property and is incarcerated in the Belknap County House of Corrections.

According to a police investigation conducted by the Merrimack County Sheriff’s Department and the N.H. State Police, McNeil was allegedly a confidential informant for former Detective Matt Dawson of the Tilton Police and was the one who allegedly sold the $2,000 card to one of Dawson’s relatives for $600.

Dawson, according to his statement to Merrimack County investigators, is alleged to have brokered the deal between McNeil and his relative.

Investigators learned McNeil met Dawson’s relative in the parking lot at Chili’s and that McNeil told him the card was for some materials that were returned from a job and that he had already been paid for the job.

The investigation was referred out of Belknap County because of a potential conflict with the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department and the Tilton Police Department.

According to Dawson’s statements to police investigators, the card was used twice by Dawson or his relatives – once in Gilford for a small amount, and once in Littleton for $1,900.

Dawson told investigators he asked McNeil if the card was stolen, but McNeil assured him it was not. McNeil told investigators he really thought the card was legitimate because it was a construction rebate card and Miner was working on a big job.

When Dawson realized his co-workers (one of whom was investigating the theft) learned the card had been stolen, investigators said he admitted his role in the matter to his superiors.

McNeil told investigators that once Dawson learned the card was stolen Dawson called him in an effort to get him to “make it right” by getting Miner to call the homeowner and offer to make him whole.

McNeil told investigators he didn’t know if Miner made the call.

Investigation paperwork shows that during McNeil’s interview with police, he initially hesitated about naming Dawson as the person he called when Miner brought him the credit card.

When investigators asked him if it would help if he knew they had already talked to Dawson, McNeil said, “It would help a lot.”

“After that it was a relief for McNeil because he didn’t want to pinch Dawson on anything because he has done so much for him,” investigators wrote.

McNeil said that after Miner gave him the card — they planned on splitting the proceeds — he called Dawson because he knew he was in the construction business. He reaffirmed to police that Dawson asked him if the card was legitimate.

When police asked McNeil if he thought it was unusual that Miner would give him the card and allow him to sell it for such a small amount of money, McNeil allegedly told them that it wasn’t unusual because Fast Cash would only give him 30 cents on the dollar.

During the criminal portion of the investigation, Dawson was on a paid administrative leave. If there was an internal investigation, the Daily Sun doesn’t know about it, and personnel records are not available under the state’s Right to Know laws.

Dawson returned to work but is no longer a detective corporal. He is a patrol officer.

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WBIN-TV sets sights on larger audience for Children’s Auction

LACONIA — WBIN-TV will be broadcasting live from the LNH Children’s Auction for four days next month, running a segment from noon to 2 p.m. on each of the first four days of the auction.

Executives of the station, whose news operation is located at the former Walker School in Concord, held a Skype discussion yesterday afternoon with members of the board of directors of Lakes Region Public Access TV, which will be broadcasting the entire auction live from Dec. 9-13.

Robb Atkinson, WBIN news director and Lee Kinberg, executive vice president of NH 1 News Network, said that the station will be running commercial-free segments on the auction with the goal of helping it reach a larger viewership.

‘’Our goal is to make it bigger than it was and to help more kids,’’ said Atkinson, who said that correspondents Charlie Sherman and Jenna Abate will be talking to people and telling stories about what the auction has accomplished in the past as part of its coverage.

The executives also said that the live show will expand the viewership to the Concord area, where people could drop off auction items at the NH 1 studio there.

They said WBIN-TV already has an hour special program planned for the Thanksgiving period about the auction, which raised $510,801 last year, and plans a wrap up around Christmas time on this year’s auction.

Nancy LeRoy of Laconia, a board member of LRPA-TV, asked ‘’Is all the money staying in the Lakes Region?’’ which prompted the WBIN executives to say, ‘’What we raise will be distributed in the areas of the most need’’ and that they wouldn’t mind seeing the Boys and Girls Club of Concord or the Friendly Kitchen, also in Concord, receiving funds.

When LeRoy pointed out that historically the auction funds have been disbursed in the Lakes Region, the executives said that NH 1 has nothing to do with where the money goes. Those decisions rest with the executive board of the auction, which was started on WLNH radio in 1982 by Warren Bailey.

The radio station is now owned by Binnie Media and broadcasts from the NH 1 bureau which is located in the former Laconia police station on Church Street,

Dale Eddy, chairman of the LRPA’s board of directors, enthused ‘’this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’’

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County Commission to Pursue Appeal

LACONIA — After consulting with legal counsel, the Belknap County Commissioners yesterday agreed to pursue their appeal to the state Supreme Court of the ruling by the Belknap County Convention's Personnel Committee that reversed the commissioners' decision to terminate County Nursing Home Administrator Dennis Logue.

After being fired by the commissioners in September, Logue appealed to the Personnel Committee, consisting of Reps. Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), who chairs the convention, Bob Greemore (R-Meredith), the vice-chairman, and Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), the clerk. Following a daylong hearing, the committee unanimously voted to overturn the decision of the commission. The commission, in turn, promptly placed Logue on administrative leave with pay, and asked the committee to rehear the case. When the committee refused, the commission indicated it would appeal.

In the meantime, two of the sitting commissioners — Ed Philpot a Laconia Democrat, and John Thomas a Belmont Republican — were replaced at the general election. Dave DeVoy of Sanbornton succeeded Philpot, who chose not to seek re-election, and Burchell defeated Thomas in the primary.

Little more than a week after the election DeVoy and Burchell, who together will represent a majority of the commission when they take office in January, issued a joint statement announcing that they would withdraw the appeal of the Personnel Committee's decision. "It is counter-productive, in our view, to spend time and the public purse on a course of action which has been repudiated by the voters,'' the two commissioners-elect wrote in a letter published in the Daily Sun.

The newly elected commission — DeVoy, Burchell and incumbent Steve Nedeau of Meredith — would have to take a positive vote to withdraw the appeal. But, Burchell was a member of the Personnel Committee who voted to reinstate Logue. That is to say, he was party to the decision under appeal and could be deemed to have a conflict of interest in voting to withdraw the appeal. Without Burchell's vote a motion to withdraw the appeal would fail for want of a majority.

Burchell said yesterday, "My instinct is that I would not have a conflict of interest," but added, "I haven't studied it and I would seek independent legal counsel. I wouldn't want to lose the power to do one job," he continued, "because I exercised the power to do another job."

Burchell said that he looked forward to "working toward solutions rather than be mired in legal actions."


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Lakes Region Child Care moving from Belmont Mill to East Gate Park

BELMONT – Lakes Region Child Care Services has plans to relocate its program from the Belmont Mill to 24 East Gate Park.

Program Director Marti Ilg said the relocation will allow the program to serve up to 15 more children – helping to alleviate the waiting list of nearly 20 children.

"We're trying to responsibly meet the demands of child care in the area," Ilg said yesterday.

Lakes Region Child Care operates three facilities – one in Belmont, one in Laconia and one on Plymouth. Its programs served 440 children from 28 individual communities last year. The agency employs 43 people and provides just under 60,000 days of day care to area families, said Ilg.

They also operate summer programs from Laconia's and Belmont's four total elementary schools.

The agency has been operating in Belmont program from the Belmont Mill since 2006.

"We've maximized the space over there and they've (the mill and the town of Belmont) been very good to us," said Ilg. She said the mill facility has a maximum capacity of 45 children, but because of staggered scheduling, this year they serviced 55 children.

"We have wait lists for all of our programs," she said.

Ilg said the new space is about 4,000 square feet – nearly double the space in the Belmont Mill.

She said along with the additional space for programs, the agency has plans to relocate one of the offices from Laconia to Belmont, possibly opening up more space in the Laconia program.

Ilg said the agency presented its proposal to the Application Review Committee in Belmont and received some overall favorable responses.

She said there are plans to put the playground in the rear of the building where now there is pavement. The plan is to have Pike Industries reclaim the pavement.

She said there is a "U" driveway in front of the building that could allow buses, although she said the vast majority of the children are brought to the school by their parents.

She said Police Chief Mark Lewandoski initially expressed some concerns about the additional traffic entering and exiting East Gate Park, but was somewhat relieved when he learned that the children are brought to the agency a various times during the day.

Ilg said the agency has hired Warren Architects to complete the plans, and Meredith Village Savings Bank will be used for financing the building retrofit.

Ilg said she hopes to appear before the Planning Board in December for the site plan review and then they can go to the various state licensing boards for all the necessary approvals.

She said if all goes as planned, Lakes Region Child Care could be in its new location by next April or May.

"I think this will work out well," Ilg said. "We can expand our programming and the town can go forward with their plans for the Belmont Mill. This is a win-win."

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