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Keenan's side find it 'preposterous' for Dunn to say chief wouldn't have been fired for 'infidelity'

GILFORD — In the wake of Town Administrator Scott Dunn telling the state's largest newspaper that former Police Chief Kevin Keenan was not going to be fired for "infidelity", Keenan's lawyer said the statement was "preposterous."

"When I read what Mr. Dunn said in the (N.H.) Union Leader I wondered if we were on the same planet and talking about the same case," said Laconia attorney Phil McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said the allegations and insinuations made by Dunn that the internal investigation conducted for the Selectboard by Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith was about issues other than "his relationship with another officer" were baseless. He indicated that any other words that might be used were just "variations of the (same) theme."

When interviewed about his earlier statements to the Union Leader on Tuesday, Dunn said that Keenan read the 20 to 30 page report prepared by MRI and chose to resign.

"It wasn't about infidelity and things were discovered during the internal investigation," Dunn said Tuesday. When asked what things, he said he couldn't comment further because they were personnel related.

During his resignation statement to selectmen, Keenan said the MRI report expanded on the conclusion of adultery and claimed that he had, in a variety of ways, exercised favoritism and engaged in various conduct unbecoming (to an officer).

He also said that he was advised late in the week that selectmen were going to hold a disciplinary committee hearing the next Wednesday at 4 p.m. "... and I would thereafter be terminated for cause."

Keenan said he "would not be allowed to offer evidence and my attorney would not be allowed to contest the MRI report."

Dunn described the investigation as "comprehensive" and said Keenan could have appeared before a disciplinary board (the selectmen would convene as the disciplinary board), that he may or may not have been fired, and that if he were fired, he could appeal it through the N.H. Judicial system.

"Mr. Keenan chose to resign instead," Dunn said. "The selectmen weren't going to fire him for infidelity."

In a statement read by Keenan to the selectmen during his resignation, he admitted his adulterous relationship and said he was told by Selectman Gus Benavides that the matter would be "handled as an internal personnel matter and might result in a caution or a reprimand, all within the confines of a confidential personnel investigation."

He also said in his statement that what he thought was going to be an interview with MRI investigators was actually an interrogation.

"In this particular case, the crime of which I was suspected was adultery," he said. "There was no reason to 'suspect' me of it. I had advised selectmen of my conduct."

Dunn also said yesterday the MRI report was commissioned through the office of the Town Attorney Robert Ciandella.

"I don't know why this is still news," Dunn added. "We're moving on. He's moving on."

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 November 2013 01:04

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Laconia man who was tasered guilty of resisiting arrest; felony drug charges pending

LACONIA — A Laconia man who was zapped by a Taser twice by a Belknap County Sheriff's Deputy has been found guilty of resisting arrest and disobeying an officer.

After a bench trial during the early part of November, Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division ruled the police had justifiable cause to detain Matthew Tusi, finding him guilty of two misdemeanors that resulted from the stop.

Tusi, 30, has also been indicted in the Belknap County Superior Court for three felony counts of drug possession and one misdemeanor count of drug possession. Police allege he had marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, and heroin on him at the time of the incident.

According to affidavits and eye-witness accounts of Tusi's arrest, Sheriff's Deputy E. Justin Blanchette noticed Tusi driving along the road that leads to the Belknap County House of Corrections shortly after 9 p.m. on August 7.

Blanchette, who knows Tusi, said he was concerned because there have been instances of contraband introduced at the jail and the road to the jail is limited access. In addition, the road is marked that all vehicles are subject to random stops and searches.

In the parking lot of the jail, Tusi approached Blanchette and asked him "if he could help him."

When Blanchette asked him why he was there, Tusi told him he was bringing bail money for a friend of his. Blanchette said he told Tusi his recollection was that the woman was sentenced and was in no need of bail, but asked Tusi to wait while he checked.

Blanchette said Tusi, after swearing and screaming at him, got back in his car and left, while he was checking to see if the woman was sentenced or in need of bail. He said he beckoned to Tusi to "wait a minute" while he checked but Tusi left.

Blanchette followed Tusi, who he said didn't violate any traffic rules, but told the court he waited until Tusi was near the intersection of Union Avenue and Gilford Avenue before turning on his blue lights because he was waiting for backup from Laconia Police.

Tusi slowed and pulled to the right side of Gilford Avenue but didn't immediately get out of the car. In his ruling Carroll said Blanchette needed to use his loudspeaker to tell Tusi to get out of the car.

Tusi ran from the car and reached into the waistband of his sweatpants. Blanchette ordered him to show his hands and Tusi ran into a back yard near the lower end of Gilford Avenue. Police pursued and a backyard struggle resulted.

Witnesses said Tusi was zapped twice that night. Affidavits said one prong of the Taser missed on the first strike but Tusi was hit squarely by the Taser the second time and fell in the backyard.

He yelled and said he wanted an ambulance.

Surrounded by members of his family, as well as Blanchette, Laconia Police, and off-duty Gilford Lt. James Leach, Tusi said repeatedly he couldn't walk and that he wanted an ambulance.

After about five to seven minutes, a sergeant from the Laconia Police, told somebody to call an ambulance and one was called.

One of the members of Tusi's family, who witnessed most of the episode, said later that Tusi had a money order on him that he was bringing to the woman for deposit into her jail account. He said in his opinion Tusi misspoke when he told Blanchette he was bringing "bail" money to the woman.

It was initially reported that Tusi struggled and ambulance crews needed to subdue him. The family member said, and The Sun confirmed, that during the apparent struggle, three police officers were in the ambulance with Tusi while the two ambulance attendants were outside.

Surrounding the ambulance during this time were three male members of Tusi's family, the supervisor for the Laconia Police, the Gilford police officer, one of his friends — an off-duty police officer from New York State — and the two ambulance employees. Other witnesses were unable to see into the ambulance but, because the lights were on the inside of the ambulance were on, were able to see some kind of struggle through the windows.

According to Carroll's ruling, the defendant showed "no effects of the Taser."

Tusi is being held on cash-only bail at the Belknap County House of Corrections. As of Friday, he has not been sentenced for the two misdemeanor convictions.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 November 2013 12:13

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First step taken to transfer Area Road to Gilford

GILFORD — Area Road, which was built as part of a private subdivision around 1970 and which has served as an exit way from Gunstock Mountain Resort in recent years, is on its way to becoming a town-maintained roadway.
Gunstock General Manager Gregg Goddard met with Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning to seek approval for granting a right of way on county-owned land to the town of Gilford, which will enable the town to maintain the road.
The road extends from Rte. 11-A to the Gunstock Mountain Resort property and is gated at the Gunstock end.
Described by Goddard as being in a ''no man's land'', the road was one of two in a chalet style subdivision built by Phil Roux on land near the former Mount Rowe Ski Area. He said that one of the roads, Chalet Drive, located about 1,000 feet to the west on Rte. 11-A, was later accepted as a town road but Area Road, where 11 homes are located, has remained a private road.
Gunstock assumed control over part of property along Area Road when it acquired the 105-acre Alpine Ridge (formerly Mount Rowe) property from Penny Pitou and Milo Pike in 1998.
''We use it when we're really busy, like Soulfest during the summer and on our busy winter weekends,'' Goddard said of the former ski area property on Area Road.
He told commissioners that Gunstock has been looking at what to do about the road since 2008 and that it surveyed homeowners along the road about the situation and was able to talk with all but two of them and that all those surveyed supported the town taking over the road.
Goddard said that granting a right of way on county property requires approval from not only the Gunstock Area Commission, a five-member board which oversees Gunstock's operations, but also from the Belknap County Commission and the Belknap County Convention.
''The town needs land outside the 50-foot right-of-way in order to maintain the road,'' said Goddard, who said the right of way easement covers 5,364-square feet- about an eighth of an acre.
He said that Gunstock will need to make some improvements to the property in order to meet Gilford's conditions for accepting it as a town road, including pavement patching, ditch repair and utility pole removal.
The improvements, which will be made at Gunstock's expense, will cost between $8,000 and $10,000, and will most likely be accomplished in the spring said Goddard.
''We'll have to install and temporary barrier and will move the fence back. We'll also create an area for snow storage and will probably lose about five or six parking spaces,'' said Goddard.
Commissioners, at the suggestion of Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn, who was present at the meeting, approved a motion signing off on the layout plan which the town has approved.
Gilford selectmen will hold a public hearing Wednesday, December 4 at 7 p.m. on accepting Area Road as a town road.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 November 2013 12:02

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2nd fire in hours destroys Alton home

ALTON — A family of three is homeless after a fire destroyed their home at 1301 Mount Major Highway early Wednesday morning.

Fire Chief Scott Williams said there were two fires in the home early in the morning. He said firefighters were called to the home at 12:28 a.m. for what Williams described as a mattress fire in one of the bedrooms.

He said the male resident of the house was watching television and his wife was in the bedroom when she started screaming, "Fire."

Williams said the family tried unsuccessfully to put it out but called 9-1-1 and evacuated the home. He said the family also has a dog and a cat that also made it out.

Firefighters from Alton and Gilford arrived and Williams said a first-alarm was called but almost immediately canceled. He said firefighters extinguished mattress and the family said it would stay with friends.

"We have fire imaging cameras," William said. "We were really comfortable (knowing) the fire was out."

He said firefighters remained at the home for about two hours and, because the home is about 10 feet from the road, he said police closed the road for about two hours.

At 4:30 a.m. firefighters were called back to the house and found it completely engulfed in flames. Williams said the house was a total loss. The animals perished in the second fire.

Firefighters from Alton, Gilford, Gilmanton, and Barnstead fought the blaze and New Durham firefighters covered Alton stations.

The road was closed for a number of hours and traffic was diverted.

N.H. Fire Marshal Thomas Riley said yesterday his initial investigation shows the second fire was accidental and likely electrical in nature.

Williams said the mattress fire could have been caused by smoking material but was leaving the investigation to the fire marshal.

 

CUTLINE: ALTON FIRE -  A house at 1301 Mount Major Highway was destroyed by two separate fires that occurred within four hours of each other early Wednesday morning. A dog and a cat were killed in the second blaze. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 November 2013 11:52

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