Franklin man gets 1 to 4 years after escaping sheriff’s custody

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A Franklin man will serve one to four years in prison for escaping through the window of a Belknap County Sheriff's Department while being transported from Superior Court to the jail last month.

Anthony DeForge, 28, formerly of 21 Pearl St., had been arrested on Aug. 13 by Tilton Police and charged with being in possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell it.

After appearing in Belknap County Superior Court on Aug. 15, DeForge pleaded not guilty but there were some inconsistencies with his previous record leading the judge to hold him on cash bail and schedule a second bail hearing, leaving DeForge distraught and confused.

After getting in the sheriff's vehicle, he slid though a window while stopped in traffic at the corner of Main Street and Pleasant Street. The transporting deputy caught up to him almost immediately but slipped in the ensuing struggle allowing DeForge to head toward the Soda Shoppe.

An onlooker slowed DeForge down, and he was promptly arrested by two Laconia Police Officers.

As to the initial charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it, DeForge pleaded guilty to felony possession and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years, consecutive to the escape sentence, but all of it was suspended pending good behavior and the successful completion of a drug and alcohol program.

He will be in probation for a total of seven years after his release.

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Gilford Gift Outlet to close after 30 years

By BRENDAN SORRELL, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — The Gilford Gift Outlet is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, but at the end of the summer will be closing for good. Unlike some gift shops in the area, the Gilford Gift Outlet is going out on its own terms, finishing off another successful year. After 30 years in the location at Patrick's Place that allowed owner Eric Young to open two other gift stores in New Hampshire, it's now time to scale back and look towards retirement.
Young was studying marine science and planning on working on research vessels when failing a vision test kept him from gaining a Coast Guard certification. He transferred schools and went into the family card and gift business. After 10 years of working for the family, it was time for him to branch out on his own, and he knew the perfect spot. His father, Robert, had built the building that is now home to Patrick's Pub and a New Hampshire Liquor Store, along with the Gilford Gift Outlet. When Eric Young moved into the location in his father's building, he said, "It was a very quiet corner."
"What put the plaza on the map," Young said, "was Walter Kelleher opening up Patrick's." The addition of Patrick's added greatly to the amount of traffic the Gift Outlet received. More people were noticing the Gilford Gift Outlet as they came to the plaza, and people waiting to get into Patrick's would stop in and peruse. Many small gift stores have had great locations and been unable to stay in business as larger chains that sell greeting cards and gifts centered on life on the lake have prospered at the smaller businesses' expense.
Given the seasonal nature of sales of such items in the area and the many economic swings we have seen over the last 30 years, it might come as a surprise to many that the Gilford Gift Outlet has been open full time, seven days a week, year-round since its inception. Young explains that he does this so that his employees can have consistent pay year-round, and it is obvious that his employees appreciate his support. One employee, Laureen, even goes as far as to say "I don't think I could ever work for anyone else."
As for the business the gift shop does, Young said his T-shirt and sweatshirt business is phenomenal, making up 25 percent of sales. Yankee Candle has been a huge boost in recent years as well. Some smaller sales phenomena that have occurred over the years are certainly more apparent to people in Young's trade. During an economic downturn the business was making do but incurring some debts when the Beanie Baby craze hit. Young said "Beanie Babies kept a lot of stores like mine going." The sales of these specialized stuffed animals was so great that his store immediately increased its profits by a substantial margin and went on to have a great sales year.
These days, when people come into the store and see the store's closing sale in progress, they often say "I'm so sorry you're leaving" and wonder where they're going to go next summer. This sentiment is greatly appreciated on the part of Young, and while it is bittersweet in a certain sense he believes it is the right decision. The store will be open through Sept. 20, with large mark-downs, as they sell to the bare walls.

09-07 gift store closes

The Gilford Gift Outlet will close Sept. 21 after 30 years in its location next to Patrick's Pub. (Brendan Sorrell/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Man who sold fentanyl in Tilton OD case to plead guilty

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The man accused of selling fentanyl to a 21-year-old Tilton man who died of an overdose filed a sealed document in the Belknap County Superior Court Tuesday indicating his willingness to plead guilty.

Brian Watson, 51, formerly of Northfield, had been scheduled for a final pretrial and a hearing on some pending motions Monday but was given a plea-and-sentencing date of Nov. 7.

Watson's case was scheduled for trial on Sept. 12 and the jury was scheduled to be selected next Monday.

Watson allegedly sold fentanyl to Seth Tilton-Fogg, who was found dead of an overdose in his family home in the morning of April 3, 2015. He was arrested and charged by Tilton Police on May 8 after an intense investigation.

Since his arrest, Watson's attorney, Mark Sisti, has filed a number of motions to eliminate much of the state's evidence but did not prevail on a pivotal attempt to stop a jury from hearing a 30-minute interview with Tilton detectives in which Watson made a number of incriminating statements.

In addition, one of the state's key witnesses against him was his former girlfriend, Teeana Bryson, who was given immunity in November so she could testify against him. Although she failed to show up for a few hearings in court, she was compelled by the court to testify at this trial.

According to an article published in The Portland Press Herald by Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne, the crime is punishable by life in prison, although the court takes each case, including Watson's, individually.

While it has been for a number of years, Ronayne spoke to the New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster, who said this type of crime is being charged and prosecuted more vigorously now, especially in cases where fentanyl is involved, because of the recent opioid epidemic sweeping the country.

Fentanyl is a synthetic version of heroin and is known to be far more powerful than heroin. In his statements to Tilton Police, Watson told them he knew he was selling Tilton-Fogg fentanyl and warned him not to use too much. Watson told police he knew it was fentanyl because it smelled differently than heroin.

In August, County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen received permission from the Belknap County commissioners to apply for a grant from the New Hampshire Department of Justice for $5,500 to pay for expert witness fees to bring an expert witness from NMS Labs in Pennsylvania to testify in the case.

Sisti planned on challenging the evidence at trial because the state medical examiner had sent a sample of Tilton-Fogg's blood to Pennsylvania for an analysis that determined he died of "acute fentanyl poisoning."

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