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Landlord's role, if any, in bust still focus of arguments in Governor's Island pot farm case

LACONIA — The former landlord of a local man who is accused of growing marijuana in a Governor's Island home has said she does not want to be deposed or testify about any role she may have played in the case.

Jennifer Truman, who lives in another state, owns the home at 47 Blueberry Hill Road where Corey LaPlante, 28, and Janelle Noftle, 24 were living when police from the N.H. Drug Task Force and Gilford raided the home in October of 2013.

As it stands now, LaPlante and Noftle each face separate charges of manufacturing marijuana and hashish with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana and hashish. Police recovered $33,000 in cash, marijuana, hashish, and six guns.

There is a motion to consolidate the cases but Belknap County Judge James O'Neill has yet to rule on it.

At issue in court yesterday was LaPlante's attorney Mark Sisti's inability to contact Truman or depose her as part of preparing for his client's defense. In a ruling issued two weeks ago, O'Neill denied LaPlante's motion to depose her, saying that Sisti hadn't exhausted all avenues for getting information from her.

Yesterday, Sisti told the court that Truman has hired a lawyer so now he can't contact her unless it is through her attorney. He has filed a motion asking O'Neill to reconsider his request to depose her.

Town property tax records indicate Truman receives her mail at a P. O. Box in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Sisti has argued that Truman was acting as an agent of the police when she made one of two trips to LaPlante's home last fall, that she brought a witness with her and was acting under the direction of the N.H. Drug Task Force.

Her observations included a water treatment facility, said Sisti, which was part of what led the drug task force to apply for a search warrant.

Sisti has filed a motion to suppress any evidence gathered during the search because of her role but, without access to her, he said he can't get any information.

The state, represented by Asst. Attorney General James Vara, has objected to Sisti's request to reconsider Truman's deposition.

Accompanying his objection was a portion of a interview held on May 1, 2014 with Truman, her attorney James Lafrance, Vara, and a member of the drug task force. The interview was held in Lafrance's Laconia office and Truman was teleconferenced in from an unknown location.

The conversation was held so Vara could learn why Truman was on the property and what she saw.

Truman told Vara that she went to the property to see some "wood rot" on the back deck and to see what landscaping needed to be done. She said she knocked on the door but neither LaPlante nor Noftle answered and she assumed they weren't home.

She said she walked around the back of the house to look at the deck. Once there, she said "she could smell a strong 'skunky' odor from an exhaust fan in the garage window."

Truman told Vera that although the sliding glass door had a curtain, the window next to it didn't so she was able to "see into the basement very easily." She said she observed some sort of water system in the basement.

She said she only entered the home later, after requesting a walk-through from LaPlante and Noftle. She said she gave them 24 hours notice. Truman said she was familiar with the odor of marijuana and said what she smelled was consistent, describing the odor as a "dead skunk" or "a lot of dead skunks all piled up together."

The man who accompanied Truman has said that he noticed the house was very clean but said his sense of smell wasn't very good.

During the teleconference, Truman told Vara she didn't meet the drug task force detective and had only spoken with him after her walk-through. The first time Truman said she met the detective was after the phone conversation and at the Gilford Police Department.

The May 1 conference call lasted about 10 minutes.

As part of his effort to keep his client off the stand, Lafrance also filed a motion objecting to O'Neill's reconsideration. He and Vara also asked O'Neill to keep Truman's address private because the alleged criminal behavior took place at her house and she could be considered a victim.

Lafrance said Truman has nothing to do with the alleged activities, is embarrassed that it allegedly happened on her property, and would have to travel a great distance to get to New Hampshire which would be an inconvenience.

He also said there is no evidence Truman was acting as an agent of law enforcement.

Sisti has asked that Truman's statement be stricken from the record. He argues Truman is a material witness, as is evidenced by her interview with police and her statement calls into question whether she trespassed on property rented "for the exclusive use of Corey LaPlante and Janelle Noftle."

He said Truman appeared to "roam (sic) around the residence without permission and without authority" and without knowing if LaPlante and Noftle were home.

The state has also asked for reciprocal discovery, saying it wants access to any and all witnessed Sisti may have identified who will testify at the suppression hearing.

He said this reciprocity is justified in order to "prevent the defense from withholding relevant discovery in order to ambush the state's witnesses on cross-examination at trial or at the motion to suppress."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 11:26

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Retiring Alan Robichaud honored by Granite United Way

LACONIA — Alan Robichaud, long-time community advocate, organizer and a leader in the efforts of non-profit organizations to improve the lives of citizens in the Lakes Region, was presented with the Captain Ralph Bristol Award at the annual meeting of the Granite United Way's Central Region yesterday at Church Landing.
Robichaud, who will be retiring this coming summer, has most recently served as community development director of what until last year was the Lakes Region United Way, and was credited by his boss, Jack Terrill, senior vice president of community impact for the Granite United Way, with having been a committed community builder with an exceptional set of skills which helped develop civic engagement and community collaboration.
Over a long career in social services, Robichaud has won numerous honor, including the ''Heart of Your City'' award from Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV in 2012, the George "Pete" Harris award from Genesis Behavioral Health, a Good Scout Award from the Daniel Webster Council and the Norm Marsh Award from the Belknap Economic Development Council in 2007.
''He has not sat back on his laurels but has continued to play a role in organizations like the Financial Stability Partnership, Better Together and the 200 by 2020 Initiative, as well as the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health,'' said Terrill.
Robichaud is the former executive director of the Belknap County Citizens Council for Children and Families as well as the executive director of the N.H. Developmental Disabilities Council and administrator for the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, among other positions.
Robichaud got to present one of the awards at the meeting, the Sara Allen Award, an honor given to an agency or initiative that takes important steps to either ensure their services are sustainable or enhance the effectiveness of those services, which went to the Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health.
The third major award, The Nighswander-Chertok Award, which acknowledges an organization for fundraising campaign design excellence and development of a giving culture that utilizes best practices to encourage individual and corporate community investment, was presented to ALF Noyes Test Inspection of Belmont, which last year increased it's United Way contribution by 38 percent. That award was presented by Cindy Bodah of the Bank of New Hampshire, who chaired the Central Region's United Way campaign,
This year's meeting marked the second since the merger of the Lakes Region United Way with Granite United Way, a change which has benefited both organizations according to Patrick Tufts, president and CEO of Granite United Way who said that the organization raised over $7 million last year.
More than $1 million of that came from the Central Region according to Scoop Welch of Granite United Way. Terrill said that two companies from the area, the Bank of New Hampshire and LRGHealthcare, were Granite Award winners with contributions of over $100,000.
Granite United Way was formed in July, 2010 with the merger of Heritage United Way of Manchester, United Way of Merrimack County of Concord, Upper Valley United Way of Lebanon and North County United Way of Littleton. In 2012 United Way of Northern New Hampshire of Berlin joined the group and Lakes Region United Way joined last year.
Tufts said that the strength of the organization is that decisions on how money is raised and spent are made at the local level on that it has been an exciting year of growth for the organization.

Alan Robichaud (left) was presented with the Ralph Bristol Award at the annual meeting of the Granite United Way held at Church Landing in Meredith yesterday. Here he is congratulated by United Way Vice President Jack Terrill. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 06:53

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Runaway boy was at friend's house

BELMONT — A 12-year-old boy's family is breathing a sigh of relief now after he ran away and stayed out of contact with them for almost 24 hours.

Lt. Richard Mann said the boy's grandmother called them at 4:24 p.m. Friday to tell he had run away and she had no idea where he was. She reported he had run into the woods near Wildlife Boulevard around 3:30 p.m.

Mann said on-duty Belmont Police looked for the boy without any luck until about 5 p.m. when they called for additional support from their own department as well as a K-9 from the Gilford, a bloodhound from the Rochester Police and some members of the Department of Fish and Game.

He said the police and the dogs searched the wood in the area but both dogs tracked the boy's scent to Rte. 106, where it went dead. Mann said it rained very hard Friday evening and throughout Saturday morning and officials feared the boy would wander into one of the many ponds in the nearby woods.

Mann said the boy came home at 7 a.m. Saturday and told his grandmother that he had stayed at a friend's home that was about one or two miles away.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:57

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Rep. Worsman will not seek 3rd term in N.H. House

MEREDITH — Representative Colette Worsman, who has represented Meredith in the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2010 and chaired the Belknap County Convention since 2012, yesterday announced that she will not seek a third term.

In a prepared statement, Worsman, a Republican, said "I believe in term limits, which allow for fresh ideas and renewed energy to serve you." She prefaced her remark by explaining "in order to dedicate myself to you, I chose to give freely of a tremendous amount of time and energy."

Later Worsman, who owns and operates a construction contracting firm with her husband Glenn, said that "it's important for working people to serve in the Legislature, but for someone working full-time it requires a lot. It's time to pass the baton," she continued, adding "the sacrifice was worth the investment in the lawmaking process."

Worsman served two three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen in Meredith, but in 2012 lost her bid for a third term by more than 200 votes. Meanwhile, in 2010 she was elected to the first of her two terms in the House, where she held a seat on the Finance Committee. During her first term she was a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Republican majority led by the controversial Speaker Bill O'Brien and called the "balanced budget" adopted under his leadership her proudest achievement as a lawmaker.

Worsman's second term in the House, when the Democrats regained their majority, was overshadowed by her leadership of the Belknap County Convention, which put her at loggerheads with the Belknap County Commission. This year and last Worsman, in an unprecedented show of force, not only significantly reduced but also effectively rewrote the county budgets proposed by the commission, sparking a bitter dispute between the convention and commission over their respective budgetary authority. Along with helping to squeeze the state budget, she counted "holding taxes down in Belknap County" as her major accomplishment.

A staunch conservative, Worsman did not shy from putting herself in the minority, sometimes a small minority. She was among only seven members of the House to vote in favor of legislation requiring that evolution be taught as a political theory and one of five to require all legislation refer to the Magna Carta. "I never considered myself a politician," she said. "I look back at what I've done as a service."

Worsman likened her decision to "taking a sabbatical" and declined to rule out either retiring from or returning to the political arena in the future. "I'm taking time off and playing it by ear," she said.

In the meantime, in her statement she urged "a fellow citizen who possesses strong conservative values and who believes in small government, privacy protection, personal responsibility and personal freedoms to pick up the banner I lay down. I cannot overstate," she closed, "the need for wisdom and steadfastness in upholding the N.H. U.S. Constitutions, or the need for personal and unselfish commitment to work for your constituents."

Worsman is one of four representatives elected commonly by Meredith and Gilford voters. She is currently joined by Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) and Lisa DeMartino (D-Gilford).

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 11:51

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