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Tilton police detective allowed to 'take the 5th'

LACONIA — A Tilton police corporal has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and will not testify in a rape case he investigated for fear of criminally implicating himself in a different matter.

Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill ruled Wednesday that Det. Cpl. Matthew Dawson cannot be compelled to testify or be deposed regarding the case against Thomas Gardner that the Tilton Police Department investigated two years ago and is now scheduled for trial.

Dawson is on the payroll of the Tilton Police but hasn't worked since early November, said Selectman Pat Consentino. He earns $30.68 per hour.

At the Tuesday hearing, both Gardner's attorney Wade Harwood and Dawson's attorney Peter Peter Perroni indicated that Dawson is also the subject of an internal investigation being conducted by the Tilton Police Department.

Perroni, who is an attorney for the New England Police Benevolent Association, said Dawson is invoking his right against self-incrimination because he may be connected to an ongoing criminal investigation of an unknown nature.

O'Neill's ruling came after the hearing, where it was disclosed the Dawson was the subject of a "Laurie order" or a determination by a judge that a police officer has committed one of several actions that could call his or her credibility as a witness into question.

A "Laurie order" means that if a police department and/or a county attorney has information in an otherwise private personnel file that could call his or her ability to tell the truth into question, it must be disclosed to the defense if the defense intends to put that officer on the stand.

A review of Gardner's file shows both Harwood and Assistant Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern have included Dawson as a potential witness against Gardner.

Perroni said in his opinion Harwood was trying to impugn the veracity of the entire Tilton Police Department by putting Dawson on the stand when the primary investigation into the rape allegedly committed by Gardner was conducted by Tilton Police Detective Nate Buffington.

Harwood argued that there may be some things he would ask Dawson in either a trial or a deposition that could present Fifth Amendment problems for him but that Dawson was part of the investigation against his client and his client has a constitutional right to confront his accuser and ask him questions.

Harwood said the questions he would ask could be reviewed by a judge in a "in camera" review or one that takes place out of the ear of the public and he would likely appeal O'Neill's ruling to allow Dawson to stay off the stand.

Jury selection for Gardner's rape trial is scheduled for June 2, 2014. As of yesterday, Harwood has not filed an appeal of O'Neill's ruling.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 April 2014 01:40

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Johnson moving from LMS to Woodland Heights, Ennis will move up to top job at middle school

LACONIA — School Superintendent Terri Forsten announced yesterday that current Middle School Principal Eric Johnson will take over as the principal at Woodland Heights Elementary School beginning next year.

Johnson, whose roots are in elementary education, was the principal at Pleasant Street School before being shifted to the Middle School two years ago. He will replace current Principal Dennis Dobe. Johnson has been with the Laconia School District for seven years.

Taking over at helm of the Lacona Middle School will be current Asst. Principal Chris Ennis, who has been in the district for 18 years. For the past 15 years, Ennis has been at the Middle School and is also one of the team that designed the school's security plan.

The school district is currently reviewing application for a principal spot at Elm Street School.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 01:21

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Gilmanton man falls from ladder

GILMANTON — An unidentified local man was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Lebanon last night after falling from a ladder around 7 p.m.

Police Sgt. Matt Currier said the man was working on a tarp on a house he owns on Mallard Road when the "ladder kicked out on him."

Currier said the man was alert but in pain and the decision was made for the helicopter to land at the Gilmanton Public Safety Building on Rte. 140 West. He said the helicopter was on the ground for about one-half hour and that Gilmanton Firefighters prepared him for the flight while waiting.

At press time there was no further information.


Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 01:11

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Former road agent's lawsuit withdrawn

BARNSTEAD — Former Road Agent Chris Carazzo has withdrawn his suit in Belknap County Superior Court against the town for unlawful termination and the town had agreed not to seek to recoup its legal fees for defending the suit.

Carazzo was fired in September 0f 2013 by selectmen for refusing to co-operate with town officials and provide records of his transaction with two metals recycling companies.

Selectmen had launched an investigation after a complaint was made that he sold the recyclables and kept the money for himself.

Selectmen said he was specifically terminated for refusing to cooperate with them not for misappropriation of town resources.

Carazzo had filed suit against the town however after a lengthy court battle that he agreed in writing on Monday that he would not file any additional complaints against the town regarding his dismissal.

Judge James O'Neill ruled Monday to dismiss the case with prejudice and said no further action is required.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 02:04

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