Hell’s Angel held on $50,000 bail for alleged domestic assault after standoff


LACONIA — A local man who police say is a Hell's Angel was held on $50,000 cash-only bail or $200,000 corporate surety after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend on two separate occasions in his home on Weirs Boulevard. He must also provide a source of funds should he post bail.

11-15 James Patrick CunninghamBelknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen didn't mention the local motorcycle club affiliation when she asked the court to set 60-year-old James Cunningham's bail at $100,000 cash-only or $200,000 corporate surety.

Guldbrandsen also asked for a source-of-funds hearing should Cunningham post bail. The judge asked her why and she said the multiple assaults, coupled with his refusal to exit his home when ordered to by police, make him dangerous.

Cunningham faces two counts of second-degree domestic violence assault, one count of simple assault, one count of resisting arrest, one count of criminal threatening, one count of felony criminal threatening and one count of possession of a controlled drug. Police allegedly found some marijuana in a bedroom desk drawer.

According to police affidavits, the woman who called police "made reference to being the victim of human trafficking" by Cunningham, whom she said is a Hell's Angel. She alleged that he hit her over the head with a pool cue on Nov. 11 and the cue broke. She said that in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, he slapped her face. She said that when she went into a bedroom, he threatened to "slash her throat" and "bash her head in." She told police there were many knives and swords in his home.

She escaped the home through a bedroom window around 8:30 a.m. on Monday after calling Laconia Police, who helped her to safety, but Cunningham refused to come out of his house for an additional two hours, leading local police to activate the Belknap County Special Operations Group.

According to police affidavits, after speaking on the phone with P. Scott Bratton, an attorney known for representing members of the Hell's Angels, Cunningham surrendered to police but allegedly struggled with them, forcing police to zap him with a Taser. He is charged with one count of resisting arrest.

While the police affidavits reference "human trafficking," Guldbransden didn't mention that or the Hells Angels in her oral bail argument Wednesday. Cunningham is not facing any human trafficking charges and it is not unlawful to be a member of a motorcycle group.

Cunningham was represented by Thomas Doyle and Kelly Norton, both of Massachusetts.

Doyle told the court that Cunningham had already relinquished all of his firearms to the Laconia Police and that police, according to their own affidavits, didn't find any knives or swords that the alleged victim described to them. He called Guldbrandsen's request of $100,000 "extremely excessive."

He said his client could post $10,000 cash bail and would agree to any conditions and restrictions the court would place on him, including that he not consume alcohol or drugs, that he not leave the state of New Hampshire, and that he sign a waiver of extradition.

Doyle said Cunningham has some serious medical conditions, including a heart disorder that includes needing a defibrillator. He said his client was supposed to see the doctor that day.

He said Cunningham has lived in his home for 16 years, does carpentry work locally and has strong connections to the area and that for these reasons he is not a flight risk.

Doyle also told the court that, despite the police department's recovery of a broken pool cue taped together, if the alleged victim had been struck in the head with it, she would be in the hospital. He said there were no significant marks on her head, according to police.

When the judge made his cash bail determination, Doyle asked again for lower cash but to no avail.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 3392

Use of biosolids still at issue in Gilmanton, as farmer discovers


GILMANTON — A local farmer who received two deliveries of Class B biosolids last month and who found himself on the receiving end of a letter of complaint sent by his neighbors to the Department of Environmental Services fixed the problem with a wood ash covering so quickly the state couldn't issue a letter of deficiency.

Robert McWhinnie of Hayshaker Farms said his two deliveries from Resource Management Inc. of Holderness were in a "gray area" because about half of the sludge is wood ash and the company had only sprinkled a small additional amount of additional wood ash on top of the piles.

McWhinnie said RMI returned almost immediately and added some additional wood ash.

"They took care of the issue so soon that we couldn't issue a letter of deficiency but had to issue a letter of past violation," said Michael Rainey of the Wastewater Engineering Bureau of the DES.

"This was a relatively minor infraction," Rainey continued, adding that fines are reserved for the most egregious violators that happen repeatedly and that Hayshaker Farm was not one of them.

The complaint was filed by Leonard Swanson who is McWhinnie's neighbor and who has been a long-time advocate of banning all biosolids or sludge use in Gilmanton.

Swanson is not alone in his objection to the use of biosolids, or "sludge," in the mainly rural community. For the 2016 annual Town Meeting, 36 local residents who said they were sick of the smell of biosolids filed a petitioned warrant article to ban its use in Gilmanton.

Aside from the smell, chief among their complaints are that biosolids are irradiated human waste and that spreading biosolids on fields for fertilizer isn't environmentally or physically safe.

Depending on who is asked, the science is presented with multiple conclusions.

Twice, residents have submitted petitioned warrant articles to eliminate biosolids use and twice the articles have failed. At this point in time, it is not known if there will be a third attempt to ban them at the 2017 annual Town Meeting.

McWhinnie said his neighbors are entitled to their own opinions but wishes that some people wouldn't just stand up at Town Meetings and use scare tactics to get support for a ban.

There will be a meeting hosted by Resource Management Inc. and the Department of Environmental Services about biosolids tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Old Town Hall in the Gilmanton Iron Works.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 1013

Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club grows to 39


MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club inducted 19 members this Monday, almost doubling their size to 39 total members. The club is sponsored by the Meredith Rotary Club and engages in service projects to help the local and global community.
The evening began with a brief introduction of the club by Meredith Rotary Club Adviser Gary Dehnel. He explained that there are Rotary-sponsored Interact Clubs across the globe.

"There's 144 Interact Clubs or so around the world. There's about 440,000 of you Interacters around the world doing fellowship, friendship and service activities."
I-LHS 2016 graduate and former Interact Club International Community Service Chairperson Victoria Heffron delivered a keynote address about her recent volunteer experience in Togo, West Africa. Heffron explained that she worked for a non-governmental organization for health development and women's rights, working at orphanages, raising funds and more. She went on to describe how her experience humbled her and impacted her life. "Although other people's pain does not undermine your own, it's extremely important to realize our luck and our privilege and use it to help others," she said. Finally, Heffron ended by praising the new inductees, saying that joining Interact shows that they care about helping and will do great things in their lives. "The reality is that fear is limiting an absurd amount of people from going out and doing something incredible with their lives," Heffron said, "but you guys are the exception."
Rotarian Dean Gulezian spoke briefly about the Rotary Youth Exchange program that gives students an opportunity to travel abroad either for a school year or during the summer. Eight thousand students participate in this exchange every year.

"The program is really a phenomenal cultural immersion," Gulezian said. "You totally immerse yourself into the culture you go into."

Outbound long-term exchange students from I-LHS spend either their junior year or their gap year between high school and college abroad with a host family. Conversely, short-term exchange students spend at least three weeks with a host family abroad and also brings their host sibling to the U.S. He also stressed the need for host families for the inbound exchange students for the coming school year.
After the 19 new members were inducted by Rotary Club Advisers Gary Dehnel and Ray Goodby, Interact Club President Jackson Williams presented a donation of 1,371 pairs of socks to local charity organizations that were collected from I-LHS students. Williams stressed the importance of these less thought of clothing donations.

"It's something that's often forgotten when going to a local foundation or charity to donate clothing items or food," Williams expressed. "Socks are really important for warmth and it's just a necessary item for everyone to have." The socks were presented to Elizabeth Brothers and Andrea Condodemetraky of the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region, Scott McNeil of the Laconia Salvation Army and Martha Aucoin of the Vineyard Food and Clothes Pantry in Lakeport. Socks were also donated to the Families in Need Fund of Meredith.
All of the receivers emphasized the personal significance of giving a pair of socks to people who need them. Aucoin from the Lakes Region Vineyard Church said that they focus on respecting the people who come through their doors.

"We go in and talk to them and really interact with them. We really try to treat them with dignity," she said.
McNeil from the Salvation Army echoed Aucoin's sentiments.

"The greatest thing I can share with you about these socks," he said, "is that I'll have the opportunity to hand them out face to face with a lot of people after a great conversation."
Santa Fund's Condodemetraky explained the delight that the organization sees on children's faces when they receive the outerwear that is donated to them.

"When we are able to give them a pair of socks to go with their hat that we let them pick out, they have hope that they didn't have when they walked in the door," she said.
The I-LHS Interact Club has plans for the future such as running the phone bank at the Greater Lakes Region Children's Auction in December and caroling at the New Hampshire Veterans Home.

11-17 Interact Club

The Inter-Lakes High School Interact Club was joined by recipients of their sock drive at the induction ceremony Monday of new members. (Brooke Robinson/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 698