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Police say smashed windshield that was never fixed eventually led to arrest of alleged Gilmanton burglars

GILMANTON — One of the men charged with burglarizing a home in Gilmanton and removing all of the copper piping is also facing a charge of having unauthorized control of a handgun in Laconia.

According to court records, Christopher Poire, 25, who is formerly of Charles Street in Laconia, allegedly had the stolen weapon on May 2. He failed to appear in Belknap County Superior Court on September 11 and is scheduled to appear in that court tomorrow.

Poire is one of two men who is facing three counts of burglary for unlawfully entering a home at 1231 Province Road or Route 107 on three days in late August.

Also charged is Greg McGonigle, of Catamount Road in Pittsfield. McGonigle is also charged with one felony count of criminal mischief.

According to affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, the two were apprehended by Gilmanton Police on Tuesday night after a investigation that was triggered when, on August 31, one of the theft victim's neighbors tried to stop a car he believed was making a suspicious number of visits to the unoccupied home. The neighbor smashed the car's windshield with a baseball bat as it passed.

A week later, a Belmont Police officer noticed a car with a broken windshield on Union Avenue in Laconia and followed it to Academy Street, where it parked in front of a law office.

The driver of the car said he didn't know anything about the burglaries and that Poire had let him use the car. The driver allegedly told the officer he had been told the car had been used in a "robbery" in Gilmanton.

The car was registered to McGonigle's ex-wife and she told police that she never used it. She agreed to speak to police in the Pittsfield Police Department. She also showed police some text messages from McGonigle that said he was driving the car when the victim's neighbor broke the windshield with a bat.

Both McGonigle's agreed to a search of the car and police alleged they found five guitars and some antique items consistent with those reported stolen from the victim.

Police also traced some of the stolen items to various pawn shops in the Concord area and a scrap dealer identified McGonigle's red truck that was allegedly used to remove the stolen copper.
Fourth Circuit Court Judge Jim Carroll ordered both men held on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and $1,000 cash-only.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 02:46

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M'borough pastry chef's cheesecake recipe could be 'Next Top Product'

MOULTONBOROUGH — Jennifer Clifford, a pastry chef with Magic Foods Restaurant Group, is among six cooks in the northeast region vying for a place in the finals of the "Next Top Product" competition staged by U.S. Food Service, the second largest distributor of foodstuffs to the restaurant industry in the country.

When judges chose Clifford's recipe for Silky Mascarpone Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Topping and Candied Hazelnuts from among 70 entries in the Boston region, she advanced to the next round against competitors from all six New England states, as well as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

"It's a big deal," Clifford said. "It's going to put us on the map."

The winner of the eight regional competitions, all selected by a popular vote conducted online, will travel to Las Vegas where another panel of judges will pick the national winner. Clifford urged all those who have enjoyed her deserts at the O Steak & Seafood in Laconia and Concord and the Canoe Restaurant & Tavern in Center Harbor to cast a vote for her cheesecake on either the website (USFOODS.COM/NTP) or Facebook page of U.S. Food Service.

During her sophomore year at Moultonborough Academy, where she described herself as an enthusiastic athlete, Clifford spent a day shadowing the woman she calls "the master," Donna Love, who with husband Mike owned and operated Love's Quay Restaurant in Wolfeboro. "After one day she offered me a job," said Clifford. "As soon as I got my driver's license I started work." Clifford spent a decade with the Loves, including her last two years of high school, and in 2010 joined Magic Foods.

Clifford said that she developed the mascarpone cheesecake seeking to add a new twist to the traditional Italian cheesecake. It consists of a sugar cookie crust with mascarpone filling and chocolate hazelnut topping. She has her sights set on the finals in Las Vegas, where the winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and their product will be distributed throughout the country. In addition, her employer will be awarded $15,000 to invest in improvements to its restaurants.


Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 05:15

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1 bid to install sheriff's new $300k communcation system

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners yesterday approved the expansion of a previously approved grant for the Belknap County Sheriff 's Department which will allow it obtain a new digital radio valued at $3,500. It will replace a 20-year-old portable unit still in use.
Sheriff Craig Wiggin told commissioners that the new Motorola radio meets interoperability standards and is made possible by the distribution of nearly $500,000 in 2010 grants through the state Department of Safety.
''It is possible that there may be more funds available next year,'' Wiggin told commissioners.
Commissioners also opened the only bid received for the installation of a microwave regional communications system.
The project will be funded with a $297,110 Department of Homeland Security grant which will the department received earlier this year.
The bid from 2Way Communications on Lily Pond Road in Gilford totaled $297,107 according to calculations made by County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia). Ossipee Mountain Electronics of Moultonborough submitted a letter to commissioners indicating it would not bid on the project.
Wiggin recently told commissioners that a waiver of the county's requirement for at least three bidders would most likely be needed as few firms have the capability of installing the system, which he has described as being ideal for the county as it has simulcast capability, can use the existing tower on Mt. Belknap and is capable of being used by the Lakes Region Mutual Aid system in the event of an emergency in which their system went down.
He said that the grant will allow a long-sought communications upgrade, which had been proceeding on a piecemeal basis to this point, to be achieved in one big step. The new system is state of-the-art and will provide 95 to 97 percent coverage of the entire county, which Wiggin has said will have a huge public safety benefit.
Commissioners were updated by County Administrator Debra Shackett on progress on preparing next year's operating budget. She said that all initial requests from department heads will be received by Friday and that the departments would work together to prepare recommendations for commissioners, which would enable them to be mutually supportive and understand the priorities of other departments.
Shackett and the commissioners also discussed a proposed review of the effectiveness of social service agencies which receive county funds to see which of them would should be funded and at what level.
She said that she had attended a Granite United Way meeting the previous day which the "collective impact" process was discussed and said there was a sense that when it came to funding ''everyone is competing instead of cooperating.''
She said the UNH Cooperative Extension Service is in the process of redefining itself and has offered to work with the county on ways to determine the effectiveness of social service agencies.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 02:35

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Witness balks & alleged heroin dealer walks

LACONIA — After two years of legal maneuvering and four separate Superior Court trials, the Belknap County Attorney's Office dropped the remaining charge of sales of narcotics against Alfredo Gonzalez yesterday. He is the Manchester man city police believed was responsible for supplying the heroin that killed a 22-year-old local mother in late March of 2011.

Gonzalez, 46, who had been incarcerated for two years in the Belknap County House of Corrections while awaiting trial, had maintained his innocence. He was represented by attorney Mark Sisti.

Earlier this week, and after the jury was picked for his trial for selling heroin — death resulting, Sisti learned that the Laconia Police were investigating a different person who had allegedly admitted on his Facebook page that he was the one who injected Denty with the heroin that killed her.

Sisti argued that the prosecution knew about the investigation seven weeks before Gonzalez's trial but never told him there was potentially exculpatory evidence or a different theory of her death.

The prosecution dropped the charge for sales of heroin — death resulting, and decided to continue prosecuting him for only for sales of heroin. When one of the key witnesses against him, Karen Mekkelson, asked to be immunized for her role in Denty's death, the prosecution's case apparently unraveled.

Yesterday, the state made a verbal motion to change the day of the sale from March 30, 2011 to May 11, 2011. Sisti argued that the change would indicate an entirely different crime and Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill agreed.

The prosecution dropped the final charge against Gonzalez and, as of yesterday afternoon, he was no longer in jail.

Gonzalez first became known to the public in 2011 when 22-year-old Denty was found dead of a heroin overdose by her neighbors on April 1. They said they heard Denty's two-year-old son crying inside their apartment and, when she didn't respond to their knocks, instructed him on how to unlock the door.

Laconia Police investigated her death and arrested Mekkelson, 29, Stephen Marando, 43 and Amanda Kelly, 31. All were charged with some role in supplying Denty with the heroin and all three pleaded guilty to drug-related charges. They are serving or have served sentences in the N.H. State Prison or the Belknap County House of Corrections.

Mekkelson has now filed a motion with the court asking that her conviction be set aside because she believes she was represented by "ineffective counsel" at the time she agreed to plead guilty.

The police said their investigation of the trio led them to a fourth person — Gonzalez — who was arrested by police in the parking lot at Vista Supermarket on September 1, 2011. He was charged with and later indicted on one count of sales of heroin — death resulting, and one count of sales of heroin. If he had been convicted, he faced the possibility of life in prison.

In a different case, Gonzales was indicted by a Belknap County grand jury for selling heroin on August 23, 2011 to a Laconia woman who was facing two counts of robbery in Gilford but who was working for Laconia Police in exchange for some consideration on the robbery charges.

Gonzalez's first trial for selling heroin to the confidential informant began in October of 2012 and ended in a mistrial three days later after the jury foreman spoke with Judge James O'Neill in his chambers.

The second trial for allegedly selling heroin to the confidential informant lasted two days and ended with a not-guilty finding after the jury deliberated for about an hour.

During the time he spent waiting in the Belknap County House of Corrections — he was being held in lieu of $100,000 cash-only bail — Gonzalez was involved in an altercation with two male prisoners. He agreed to plead guilty to assault on prisoners and was sentenced to time served.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 September 2013 02:05

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