Family’s pet monkey seized

Complaint forced state to take animal raised from birth by Laconia couple


LACONIA — "It was like taking a family member out of the house," said Conservation Officer Chris Brison of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, after removing a patas monkey from a local household on Monday where it was kept illegally. "it was devastating to the family and terrible for all of us.," he said.

seized monkeyState law prohibits the keeping of many species of wild animals — amphibians, reptiles, fish and mammals, including all primates, — without a permit, which for most mammals and all primates are granted only to those who exhibit them in licensed enclosures. Brison said that the monkey's owners, Penny Dessalines, 47, and Burnie Johnson, 51, of 33 Roller Coaster Road have been charged with a violation, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.

Brison said that the couple acquired the monkey as an infant four or five years ago and thinking it was a female called it "Bella," but as it matured discovered it was a male. He said that two years ago he received a complaint and advised the couple they were in violation of the law and urged them to place the monkey in an appropriate setting. They left the state, taking the monkey with them, but later returned to New Hampshire with the monkey. After receiving an anonymous tip he executed a search warrant and removed the monkey from the home.

"It's a wild animal and should be treated as such," Brison stressed. He said that the monkey had a crate, but often was loose in the home,where he played with two children and interacted with the family dog. However, he noted that as the monkey reached maturity it was becoming more aggressive.

Initially the monkey was taken to Dr. Michael Dutton, a veterinarian in Weare experienced in caring for exotic animals, who examined him and drew a blood sample. Brison said that the monkey appeared to be in "good condition."

Afterwards the monkey was moved to an undisclosed location while officials of the Fish & Game Department began seeking to place him in an appropriate, permanent home. "We're looking at a bunch of options," Brison said. "We don't deal with monkeys very often. They require special care and attention. " He said the department was seeking a facility accustomed to primates where the monkey could be with others of his own kind.

Patas, also known as wadi or hussar, monkeys are a reddish brown with a white chest and black brow. They range across a belt in central Africa, south of the Sahara Desert and north of the central rainforest, from Senegal in the west to near Ethiopia in the east. They are terrestrial animals, living on the ground in troops of 60 or more on savannas and semi-desert regions. At maturity they are 33 inches long with a tail stretching another 30 inches. With long limbs, pat as monkeys are the fastest among all primates, capable of running 43 miles per hour. They are omnivores, feeding on insects and animal remains as well as seeds and tubers.

Former Gilmanton selectman arrested

Don Guarino in custody for third time for failure to appear in small-claims case


GILMANTON — A former selectman running again for the board was arrested last month for failure to appear in court over a remodeling job that a judge ruled he failed to perform.
On Feb. 15, Donald Guarino was arrested as he turned himself in with the sheriff's office, reported Belknap County Chief Deputy David Perkins. Guarino bonded out on $1,000 cash bail, Perkins said.
"It's not the first time we've dealt with him," Perkins said. "It's not the first arrest on this case." He was arrested twice last year on the same small claims charge, both times for failure to appear, Perkins said.
In the New Hampshire 6th Circuit Court in Concord, on July 29, 2015, Judge Kristin Spath found Guarino guilty of breach of contract.
Rick Watrous, a former legislator who lives with his wife in Concord, said he hired Guarino in November 2013 to work on the couple's sunroom and to shore up the foundation.
"He was supposed to install new window units and re-side the place," Watrous said.
Guarino finished the foundation work, but the couple then gave Guarino $3,000 to buy supplies including window units, and he disappeared, Watrous said. "He said he had the window units but he never delivered them," he said.
Guarino would show up for a few hours every two or three weeks and then vanish, Watrous said.
Watrous ended up firing Guarino in October 2014 "after months of frustration over him not showing up to complete the job," Watrous said.
Guarino argued in court that he didn't finish the work because Watrous fired him and found another contractor.
The court ruled that Guarino failed to fulfill the contract. Guarino offered no proof of work completed other than a receipt for $15, the court noted.
Then, almost a year ago, March 24, 2016, Judge Edward Gordon issued an arrest order for Guarino, with $500 bail, for failure to appear on the $2,971.21 owed to the Watrous family. On Aug. 18, 2016, a second arrest order was issued with $1,000 bail, on $2,583.10 owed. On Oct. 6, 2016, a third failure to appear arrest order was issued, again with $1,000 bail, also for $2,583.10 owed.
Watrous, today an adjunct professor in the community college system, said, "I'm just astounded how he thinks he can thumb his nose at the court system."
Watrous said, "He's failed to show up in court several times, and he hasn't paid a penny since May of 2016, and he still owes me approximately $2,600."
Guarino may have eluded police except that he filed to run for selectmen, Watrous said.
"The fact that he filed for selectmen led them to him. They finally collared him," he said.
Efforts to contact Guarino for comment were unsuccessful. But the candidate told The Laconia Daily Sun in a recent interview that he wanted to promote fiscal responsibility in Gilmanton.
But Guarino found himself ousted from the chairman's position on the board after public disputes, one of them involving whether to extend a contract to Town Administrator Paul Brancombe.
The former Gilmanton selectman ran afoul of the law as a selectman in late 2014. He pleaded guilty Dec. 4, 2014, in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, to a violation level charge of forging a vehicle inspection sticker.
Guarino has campaigned as a reformer, seeking to oust incumbent Marshall Bishop, the owner of Gilmanton Winery who has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the Gilmanton Planning Board.
Bishop on Tuesday said, "It's a shame, but that said, he has hurt himself."
Deeming Guarino a "nice person," Bishop said he thinks his opponent should withdraw from the race.
"He's done something bad and he needs to go on with his life, but should he run for selectman? He should step down. He really should," Bishop said.
Watrous said he has been turned off from hiring independent contractors based on his experience with Guarino. He said he and his wife turned to Lowe's home improvement store to finish the work on their home.
Guarino was suggested to them by a friend, as a handyman who also played in a rock band, he said.
Watrous said his advice to Guarino is: "Obey the court order. Pay up. Show up in court. Settle what you owe. And be done with it. I don't know how he thinks he can continue to get away with disobeying court orders."
Watrous said, "I think the voters of Gilmanton should know about this before they vote him into office."
Efforts to collect on the contract for home renovations will continue in the Concord court.
On May 4 at 8:15 a.m., Guarino is due for a failure to appear hearing in the Concord District Court.
"I am just fed up with Don Guarino. This all happened in 2014, and I'm still trying to get back the money that we paid him," Watrous said.

03-08 Don Guarino from last year

Don Guarino, foreground, campaigns for selectman last year. He is running again for that position this year. He was arrested last month over failure to appear in small claims court for a remodeling job he did. (File photo)

Still no report released on Alton officer firing at car


ALTON — Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, who will decide whether an Alton police officer who discharged his firearm at a vehicle was justified in his use of force, says that she has yet to receive the State Police report on the incident.
"I haven't heard from them yet. It looks like this will take a while," sad Guldbrandsen. No one was injured in the incident, which took place on the evening of Feb. 25 when a police officer who was at the scene of motor vehicle accident on Route 140 fired his weapon at a car which was approaching the scene.
Lt. Scott Gilbert, commander of the State Police Major Crime Unit, has said that the Belknap County Attorney will make a determination about the officer involved shooting, not the state Attorney General's office, because no one was injured in the incident.
Gilbert said that the driver of the first vehicle, who was charged with driving while intoxicated, had already been taken from the accident scene near Youngstown Road when the second incident took place.
He said the police officer fired a single round "because of the manner in which the vehicle was being operated." Gilbert said the vehicle came to a stop and that driver was taken into custody.
The arrest was made by Gilford police, who had been called upon for assistance by the Alton police.
Gilford police arrested Erik Klerk, 50, of Alton, who was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.
Gilbert said earlier that it would be premature to release the name of the Alton police officer who fired the shot as the investigation of the incident has not yet been completed. State Police said that they were able to speak with the diver of a U-haul truck who was driving by at the time the incident as well as two or three others who have witnessed the event.