Drug sweep in Laconia results in 17 arrests


LACONIA — Local police were joined by Concord Police and the state Drug Task Force in an Operation Granite Hammer drug sweep Tuesday morning that resulted in 12 arrests. Five additional people are being sought by police.

Police arrested Joseph Marquis, 26, of 204 Garfield St. and charged him with one count of sales of a controlled drug. He waived his arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court and is being held on cash bail.

Bounthavy Sonthikoummane, 35, of 25 Mitchell Place was charged with one count of a controlled drug. He is free on bail and is scheduled for arraignment in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division in January.

Alfred Gosselin, 38, of 69 Potter Hill Road in Gilford was charged with three counts of sales of a controlled drug. He waived arraignment in Belknap County Superior Court and is being held on cash bail. This was a drug task force investigation.

Travis Knowlton, 24, of 137 Belvidere St. in is charged with three counts of sales of a controlled drug. He waived arraignment and is being held on cash bail. This was a drug task force investigation.

Kimmel Norwood, no age given, of 21 Gilbert St. in Laconia was charged with one count of sales of a controlled drug. This is a Concord Police investigation.

Shaine Beaulieu, no age given, of 21 Gilbert St. was charged with one count of conspiracy. This is a Concord Police investigation.

Michael Brown, 32, of the Belknap County House of Corrections was charged with one count of criminal liability for another.

Brandy McGirr, 32, of the Belknap County House of Corrections was charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance.

Natasha DeRoche, 22, of 35B Lang Street in Meredith was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance. She is free on bail and will be arraigned in circuit court in January.

Todd Lachance, 32 was charge with one count of having drugs in a motor vehicle, Stephen Brue, 32, was charged with one count of possession of a controlled drug and one count of falsifying physical evidence, and Austin Brue, 23, is charged with one count of sale of a controlled drug. All three men are currently incarcerated in the New Hampshire State Prison.

Police also obtained arrest warrants for Constance Lowell, 44; David McLelland, 40, Katelin Arsenault, 19, James Polito, 25, and Arika Hanson, 27. No addresses were given for the above five people.

Operation Granite Hammer is a state-funded program passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Maggie Hassan in June that put $1.5 million in the state budget to help local, state and county police combat the current opioid epidemic in New Hampshire.


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Road rage sentence

20-year-old Nashua man regrets Belmont shooting


LACONIA — As his family wept and prayed behind him, a Superior Court judge sentenced a young Nashua man to serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for firing a shot at a car during a road rage incident on July 4.

Christopher Bonilla, 20, of Forge Drive admitted that he fired a single round into the back of a car as it was driven, but said it was in self defense and that he felt the victim posed a danger to his life and those in his vehicle.

"I apologize for my actions and I accept full responsibility," said Bonilla.

Working from notes left by a previous attorney, the prosecutor said that the victim called 911 at 7:40 p.m. to report that a bullet had been fired into his car. Bonilla also called 911 to report he was being followed.

When the judge asked prosecutor R.J Meurin if he felt that 12 months was a proper resolution, he said that he didn't necessarily agree with the agreement reached with Bonilla by his predecessor, but said that much of it was based on Bonilla light criminal record and his age.

He also said the victim didn't provide any input into the sentencing, despite two attempts to reach him.

"Why doesn't he belong in state prison?" asked Judge James O'Neill.

Meurin replied that the sentence was totally meant to punish, that Bonilla didn't have any drug or alcohol problems and that there may be some component of self defense should the case go to trial.

Defense attorney Adam Bernstein said he felt the sentence was fair, in that Bonilla would have a felony conviction on his record.

He also said that Bonilla has done nothing but work and go to college in the six months since his arrest and that he fully cooperated with police, a statement corroborated by Belmont Police at the time of his arrest.

"I don't think you'll ever see my client again," Bernstein said, acknowledging that what Bonilla did was a reckless act and that he had made a stupid and dangerous decision. Bernstein also presented the court with a handful of letters written in support of Bonilla receiving a reasonable light sentence including at least one from his college. O'Neill recessed for about five minutes to review them before he agreed to accept the house of corrections sentence.

Bernstein had initially approached the court with a deferred sentence, meaning that Bonilla would have had to obey certain court orders for a specific period of time and then the conviction would be expunged.

O'Neill flatly refused to accept it. He challenged Bernstein to tell him where in New Hampshire law a Superior Court judge has the right to defer a sentence.

Bernstein told him other courts have allowed it, but O'Neill wasn't having it, saying that he has asked that question repeatedly of many defense attorneys during his time on the bench and no one has ever been able to tell him where it can be found in law.

Bernstein changed Bonilla's plea to 12 months, all of which will be served in Belknap County House of Corrections.

07-09 shot-out car

This shows the damage done to the car when it was shot in July. (File photo)

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Vadney will head Belknap County Delegation


LACONIA — Rep. Herb Vadney of Meredith was elected as chairman of the Belknap County Delegation when it met Monday night at the Belknap County Complex.
Vadney, who was unopposed, is in his third term in the state legislature and was vice chairman of the delegation in his second term.
Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton), who is in his second term, was elected as vice chairman and Marc Abear (R-Meredith) was elected as secretary.
All three will be members of the Executive Committee, along with Rep. David Huot (D-Laconia), the only Democrat on the 18-member delegation, and Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford) and Rep. Peter Spanos (R-Laconia).
Three members of the delegation were not present for the meeting, Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton) and Rep. Michael Maloney (R-Gilmanton).
In one of Vadney's first acts as chairman he questioned why the delegation hadn't been informed sooner that requests for major budget transfers were going to be made.
He pointed out that a month ago he had asked commissioners whether or not there would be any more transfer requests and had been told there was no concern about transfers and now the delegation was being asked to transfers of $47,384 from the contingency fund for a payment to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and $52,739 to meet payroll in all departments.
Belknap County Administrator Debra Shackett said that the county's percentage of the statewide payments to DHHS for residents in private nursing homes had increased and the county was now being billed $6,178.549 instead of the $6,131,566 it had budgeted. The increase in payroll was due to the fact that payroll projections did not take into account that accrued payroll from 2015 which was paid in 2016 was credited back to 2015, amounting to almost a full week of additional payroll for 2016 which had not been projected.
County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Gilmanton) said that Shackett was not aware of those changes when the commission met with the delegation last month and that the delegation was informed of the pending transfer requests at soon as commissioners were aware that they were needed.
Other transfer requests included $7,000 for health care incentive bonuses for non-union employees, $1,500 for sprinkler and fire suppression system repairs for the nursing home, $1,450 for dental care at the nursing home, $400 for additional cell phone fees for the maintenance department, $500 for transcribing a deposition in a sexual assault case and $600 for advertising to fill a key position in the nursing home caused by a recent resignation, as well as another vacancy.
DeVoy pointed out that filling the nursing home positions were such a high priority that Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) had paid for the advertisements already so that they could be filled without waiting for the delegation's Executive Committee to take action on the transfer request.
He said that Vadney has told him that he expects that the Executive Committee to take action on the transfer requests at a morning meeting which is being scheduled for next week.

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