Auto shop owner arrested on meth charges after traffic stop

LACONIA — A local business owner has been ordered held on $100,000 cash bail on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
Peter A. Dauphin, 42, of 19 Appleton St., appeared yesterday in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division. He was arrested Saturday night after police stopped him for allegedly squealing his car's tires while driving from Clinton Street onto Elm Street in Lakeport at 9:42 p.m.
After finding the plates on the car didn't match the registration, police performed an inventory search and allegedly found just over an ounce of what they believed to be methamphetamine in the vehicle and $2,000 in cash on his person.
Dauphin allegedly told them he was coming from his auto repair shop, Gilford Auto Repair, at 1428 Lakeshore Road.
According to redacted affidavits obtained from the court, after applying for and getting a warrant, police from Laconia and Gilford searched Dauphin's home and business. Laconia police allegedly found approximately seven additional ounces of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $44,000 and an additional $11,000 in cash.
In his brief hearing before Judge Jim Carroll yesterday, Dauphin was represented by Public Defender Justin Littlefield.
Laconia Police Det. Sgt. Thomas Swett asked for $100,000 cash bail, citing the seriousness of the crime and the danger it poses to society.
Littlefield argued that Dauphin was born and raised in Laconia and was not likely to flee.
Littlefield agreed that some cash bail was warranted but said Dauphin owns a business, has two people who rent bays and depend on him for an income, and a child who depends upon his support payments. He said Dauphin had one misdemeanor drug conviction in 1996 and a resisting arrest conviction in 2012.
While Dauphin has a business partner, Littlefield said the partner doesn't run the shop and it could fail without him. He asked Carroll to consider allowing some kind of surety bond but was denied.
"This is one of the largest methamphetamine arrests I've ever seen," said Capt. Bill Clary, speaking yesterday to the magnitude of the arrest.
Clary said there was evidence of distribution – packaging materials and scales — found in the search of Dauphin's house but there was no evidence of methamphetamine manufacturing.
Gilford Police Sgt. Chris Jacques said yesterday that police also found less than an ounce of heroin and a small amount of marijuana in the shop. He said police seized some electronics as well. Jacques said there was no evidence of methamphetamine manufacturing in the shop.
According to affidavits, police were on routine patrol when Dauphin allegedly "burnt out" or squealed his tires. The officer driving tried to catch up to Dauphin and noted he continued onto Sheridan Street at a high rate of speed.
Police said they stopped the car at the corner of Sheridan and Appleton Streets. Dauphin's house is at that corner.
According to internal policy, police must conduct an inventory search on a car if it is to be towed. Police removed the plates and, while preparing for the tow, allegedly found a small, black bag underneath the driver's seat that contained what they thought may be methamphetamine. At that point police stopped the inventory search and got the search warrants.
In the home, said affidavits, police found the rest of the methamphetamine in the master bathroom in the ceiling tiles above the sink. They also found two bundles of cash. Several items of clothing were found in the master bathroom and bedroom belonging to Dauphin linking him to the bedroom.
Jacques said the heroin and the marijuana were allegedly found during the search warrant for the shop and the cars that were in the shop but declined to say exactly where police found them.
Affidavits from court said Gilford Police allegedly found stolen N.H. State Inspection stickers.
Both Jacques and Clary said the investigation is continuing and further charges against Dauphin may be forthcoming. Jacques said it didn't appear any charges against anyone else would be filed as far as the Gilford search goes.
One of the mechanics who rents space from Dauphin at Gilford Auto Service said yesterday that police "turned the place upside-down" during their search. He also said police went through every car on the lot and in the shop including those belonging to customers.
The mechanic said the business is still open, however Dauphin does most of the transmission work so a few customers have retrieved their cars to get the work done elsewhere.

New principal shares his vision for GHS

GILFORD – It's been a life-changing few weeks for newly-named High School Principal Anthony Sperazzo. Not only did he get a promotion but over the weekend he also got married.
"I guess you could say it's been a great couple of weeks for me," said the energetic Sperazzo as he took some time to talk about himself and his vision for Gilford High School.
Sperazzo never stops moving. His two computers are set high on his desk so that he never has to sit while he's working at them. His office is neat as a pin — something he said he's been teased about since he was a youth.
"I guess I'm a little over organized," he said.
He's also athletic. A former physical education teacher, he runs marathons, sails, skis, swims and said he participate in just about every athletic event he can.
Although he hails from Ayre, Mass., now he's all Gilford.
Sperazzo graduated from Plymouth State University 11 years ago with a degree in Physical Education. He did his student teaching at Gilford Elementary School, fell in love with the district and the town and was hired to be the Physical Education and Health teacher at the middle school.
He considers himself a lifelong learner and while teaching at the middle school he continued his studies at Plymouth State, earning his Masters in Education and his certification to be a superintendent, should he decide to take that route someday.
Four years ago he was tapped to be assistant principal of the high school and as of July 1, he'll take over as principal while Peter Sawyer assumes the role of principal at the middle school.
In his role as principal, Sperazzo plans on spending as much time as possible with the students in his charge.
"I believe every student has a story and it's our job to understand enough of that story to ensure he or she gets the right education," he said. "There are many things (that go on in their lives) that go beyond the four walls of this school."
Sperazzo said he is particularly proud of the improvement he's seen in the student culture at the high school in the past four years.
"As we will report in June (to the School Board) our disciplinary data has gotten much better," he said.
"We've given clear expectations about behavior and have seen students rise to meet those expectations," he said.
Sperazzo said students need structure and they need to be held accountable. Gilford High School has seen marked improvements on that front, he added.
As principal he said one of his main jobs is to continue to keep Gilford High School a good place to work.
"We have a great staff and great teachers," he said, noting teacher and staff morale is critical to student learning. "We want our staff to want to be here."
"We have strong professional development programs that are designed to help the teachers challenge students to think critically, invest in what their learning, and continue to be active learners," he said.
When asked his opinion on grade weighing – a topic of acute interest in Gilford these days – Sperazzo was quick not to be backed into a corner but said his overall take-away was how interested and invested parents were in their children's eduction.
"It's a three-pronged approach," he said, saying learning stems from parent support, well-qualified and talented educators and from the child him or herself.
"It's gotta come from inside, from personalizing education," Sperazzo said.
When asked how he was going the reach the parents who weren't at the recent meetings of the School Board and the Policy Committee, he said he wanted to start more community outreach – and reaching deeper and different students than those who are typically spotlighted by the community like those who participate in athletes, music, and theater. (Three disciplines Gilford High School consistently excels in statewide.)
He said there are Gilford students who are doing great and exciting work at the Huot Technical Center, at the Agricultural Program at the Winnisquam Regional High School, and online with computer classes.
"I'd like to see them get some recognition and publicity as well," he said.
Above all, Sperazzo wants to see the school continually demand its students think critically, think outside the box, and analyze data to come up with their own conclusions.
And while he spends his spring break on his honeymoon and his summer teaching sailing, he said he'll also be preparing for when the teachers and students return this fall for some more rigorous academics, challenging after-school programs and some fun while learning.