Judge rules police search that found loaded gun is OK

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A judge has determined that a city police officer’s search of a car’s glove box that had been zip-tied shut was lawful and consistent with the police department’s search policy.
An attorney representing Izaiah Conway, 19, of Laconia had argued that when an officer used a screwdriver found in the car to peek into the glove box because it wouldn’t open, he violated his own department’s policy and Conway’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.
Conway was stopped by another officer and arrested immediately on an outstanding warrant. Since his car was parked partially in the road, a second officer determined he needed to be towed and set about to conduct a routine and noninvestigatory search.
He first tried to open the glove box, realized it was tied and proceeded to the rest of the car. He found a backpack in the trunk that contained a pipe the officer believed was evidence of drug use. The officer seized the backpack and stopped searching the rest of it with the intention of seizing it and getting a warrant to search further for additional contraband.
The officer continued the inventory search to see if the car should be impounded by police or towed to a tow lot.
He returned to the glove box, which is one of the places the tow policy says must be searched. Once the officer looked in the opening, he noticed the butt of a handgun that, after he towed the car to the police station to get a search warrant, ended up being loaded, and that the glove box held an additional magazine that was also loaded.
Judge James O’Neil ruled this week that the officer’s search was consistent with the police department’s towing policy that states that if a car is to be towed, it can be searched.
O’Neil noted specifically that there was no damage done to the glove box when the officer looked into it, which is one of the conditions placed on officers in the police tow policy.
“According to LPD policy, an officer is required to search the entire vehicle, including the glove box, before a vehicle is towed,” wrote O’Neill. “Under the policy, Officer (Kyle) Jepson had the affirmative obligation to fully inventory the defendant’s vehicle before he allowed the tow company to take possession of the vehicle.”
Conway is charged, among other things, with being a felon in possession of a deadly weapon and possession of drugs.

 

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Former city man charged with driving as a habitual offender

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A former city man who has been deemed a habitual offender is being held on $5,000 cash only bail for allegedly trying to avoid a city police officer. 

Jason Gauthier, 35, of 11B Oak St. in Boscawen is being charged with resisting arrest, a felony charge of driving after being deemed an habitual offender, negligent driving, and endangering the welfare of a child who was in a car seat in the back of the car he was driving on Sept. 21 at 6:36 p.m.

According to affidavits, Gauthier was spotted by an off-duty Laconia police officer who saw him turn onto Highland Street from Gilford Avenue, ignoring the stop sign. The off-duty officer knew Gauthier and that he is a habitual offender.

She gave an update that he was driving a white Hyundai toward Pine Street but had turned around and was headed back down Highland Street.

An on-duty officer saw Gauthier at the intersection of Gillette and Highland.
She learned from the other officer that Gauthier had dropped off a person on Highland Street and he later identified him and the first officer that Gauthier had a child in the back seat.

Affidavits said Gauthier's driver's license was revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles and he was deemed to be a habitual offender on July 29, 2014. He has been convicted of driving after being deemed an habitual offender on Oct. 24, 2006; Feb. 13, 2008; March 19, 2009; March 29, 2010; and May 15, 2014.

Gauthier has a bail hearing scheduled for next week.

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Belknap Sportsmen’s Club faces uncertain future despite its growth

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — It was a full house Thursday evening as many of the members of the Belknap County Sportsman Club sat at long tables covered in white while waiting for the annual chicken dinner to begin.

Beginning in 1931, the club has moved once, from closer to the airport, to where they are now on Lily Pond Road, and has seen a steadily growing membership, and today boasts just over 400 members.

Dedicated to teaching proper hunting, fishing, archery and outdoor-survival techniques to the many youths and young adults in the area, for the first time in its existence, the club faces the real possibility that it may have to close.

For years, the Sportsmen's Club has been leasing the property from the Laconia Airport for $100 a year, which has allowed the club to give about $30,000 over its existence to local scholarship funds as well as teach all of the aforementioned skills and techniques to area youths.

With the lease ending in June of next year, it is the club members' desire to purchase the land from the airport, but that's going to take some money said Herb Ainsworth, who takes care of publicity for the club. They are currently awaiting an assessment of the land's value and purchase price.

The annual chicken barbecue is but one of the events held annual for members, that include the New Year's Game Supper, hosting two annual fishing derbies, and sponsoring a scholarship for students who want to study conservation or related studies like forestry and ecology. The club also keeps its members up to date on the latest state hunting and fishing laws.

Gilford's Bob Landry, a retired Laconia firefighter, has been a member in some form since he was a child in the 1960s.

"My father was a member," Landry recalled Thursday, saying he learned much about firearms safety and hunting skills from his dad and through the club.

After he and his wife, Karin, returned to New Hampshire from California, he rejoined and has been a member since then.

"It's important to preserve a way of life that New Hampshire people are historically used to," said Karin Landry, who said now that her husband is retired, she may take up shooting and archery again.

"It's encouraging to belong to a group that promotes firearm safety and stands strong for the Second Amendment," said Bob.

On the other hand, member Stan Rogers, who has a second home in Gilford, just joined the club this year.

Rogers, who likes pistol shooting, said he likes the idea of nice shooting ranges that are outdoors.

"There aren't many areas where people can go and shoot any more," he said.

Barry and Virginia Lehneman, also of Gilford, have been members for at least 20 years and are very proud of the contributions the sportsman club has made to "the kids."

"Especially the two fishing derbies," said Barry. "We also have hunter education and a nice bow-and-arrow course."

The Lehnermans are active in the Belknap Mountain Range and are very concerned with ecology and the conservation of the areas natural resources and beauty.

He said they also sent three women to the Barry Conservation Camp in Berlin for their Becoming an Outdoor Woman program.

Ainsworth said anyone who wants to join or who has any ideas about keeping the club alive and moving forward should contact him at 267-6185 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

09-24 Belknap Sportsmen

Club members and their guest gather at the Belknap County Sportsman Club Thursday night for their annual chicken dinner. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

09-24 Belknap Sportsmens Club ranges

There are four separate shooting ranges at the Belknap County Sportsman Club as well as an archery course built through the woods. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

09-24 Belknap Sportsmens Club beach

 (Courtesy Frank Ross)

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