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Judge finds state detective offered 'reckless' misrepresentations to get search warrant that led to Governor's Island pot farm bust

GILFORD — A Belknap County Superior Court judge has thrown out all of the evidence seized during a drug raid on a rented Governor's Island home last October because there were "reckless" misrepresentations made by the narcotics detective who filed the affidavits supporting the search.

It took Judge James O'Neill less than two weeks after presiding over a suppression hearing to exclude the evidence after he heard Jennifer Truman, the owner of 15 Blueberry Hill Lane, testify about what she said she told Detective Kirk Hart of the N.H. Drug Task Force (N.H. Department of Justice) as opposed to what he wrote in his affidavits.

Hart's representations in his affidavits led to a raid on the home and the arrest of renters Corey LaPlante, 28, and Janelle Noftle, 25. They are both charged with manufacturing marijuana and hashish with the intent to distribute both controlled substances.
When police raided the home in October, they found 12 pounds of marijuana, hashish, and $34,000 in cash.

Specifically, the ruling says that Truman testified she told Hart she never saw any marijuana in the home the only time she actually entered it during the time frame in question. She said she told him only odors she could smell was "a sharp, chemical smell" on the second floor that lingered into the attic.

In Hart's affidavits, he wrote that she told him there was "the smell of fresh marijuana was pungent throughout the residence."

Truman said the first time she went to the property in the fall of last year was to assess the outside for repairs. She said she never entered the home but smelled a "skunky" odor coming from the garage area. She contacted the management company and asked them to schedule a walk through and brought someone she knew with her.

After the walk through the home on October 13, she said she contacted Hart, who she knew, and then met with him in person on October 16 at the Gilford Police Department.

Truman also testified that she told Hart she saw PVC piping in the basement through a window in the basement on her first visit, however Hart wrote that there was a "unusual water filtration system set up in the basement"

Truman testified that there were some fluorescent lights in the attic while Hart wrote that she told him the "attic was equipped with fluorescent lights and the smell of fresh marijuana was again strong in that area."

She testified that she told Hart what her electrical usage was in the home during the time she lived there and that she lacked the authority to get LaPlante's and Noftle's usage information.

Hart wrote in his affidavit that the lowest bill for the home was in November of 2012 and was $744.02 while the highest was May of 2013 at $1,117.62 and that Truman provided him with this information.

"The Court finds that all the misstatements were at least reckless," O'Neill said. "Ms. Truman testified that the statements made in her testimony at the hearing on this matter are the same statements she provided to Detective Hart."

O'Neill found that once he removed the inaccuracies from Hart's affidavit there was not enough evidence to support the probable cause needed to search the home so the evidence gathered there cannot be used at trial.

Attorney Mark Sisti represents LaPlante and said yesterday that he is "very pleased with the order and expects to resolve the matter in short order."

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 11:12

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Lawyer says Abby suffered 'unspeakable violence'

By Daymond Steer
CONWAY — The lawyer, representing Abby and Zenya Hernandez expects more charges to be filed in the case but stresses that his job is to help Abby with the legal and healing processes and that will require the media giving the teen some space.

Police say Nathaniel Kibby, 34, of Gorham, kidnapped Abby on Oct. 9 on North-South Road. Abby, 15, of Conway, returned home under mysterious circumstances on July 20. Kibby was arrested at the end of last month and is now being held on $1 million cash bail.

Abby suffered "unspeakable violence" while in captivity, according to a statement the Hernandez family released Tuesday night on the website Bring Abby Home. The statement also said Abby and Zenya are represented by Michael L. Coyne of Andover, Mass., and Steven Hyde and Briana Coakley of Coakley and Hyde in Portsmouth.
Coyne told ABC News he is handling the case free of charge.
Coyne spoke to The Conway Daily Sun on Wednesday morning. Coyne is Massachusetts School of Law's dean-elect, as well as a professor of law.
There were a couple reasons why the information was released on Tuesday evening, said Coyne.
"First of all, Abby really does want people to know how appreciative she is of their efforts to reunite her with her family and to rescue her from this situation," said Coyne. "The first half of the statement is really heart felt and she is enormously appreciative of law enforcement and the community's efforts. What she's asking for at this point is just give her some time and space to heal from what she suffered from."
When asked if more charges are coming, Coyne said that's up to the Attorney General's Office but he would expect more charges would be filed at the end of the investigation. Coyne said in terms of cases like this, additional charges tend to be added at the indictment stage. The entire process through trial could be about a year.
"My work here is to help educate Abby and assist her with the process so that when the trial is over and when the process is done that she will hopefully be able to feel some comfort that she obtained justice," said Coyne.
Coyne said Abby has faith that the justice system will work in her case.
When asked why this particular team was chosen to represent Abby and Zenya, Coyne said three "long-experienced" legal experts probably have the ability to help educate and assist "a 15-year-old kidnap victim." The trio of Coyne, Coakley and Hyde has worked together before, said Coyne.
"The fact is that this is a lot for anyone to deal with much less a child who has gone through what she has," said Coyne. "If we can assist her in any way with that, that's our job to do. That's what we intend to do. I hope that's what lawyers do at their best is to help people through their darkest times."
Coyne is familiar with the town of Conway and recalled seeing Abby's image everywhere he went when Abby was missing.
"I think that says a lot about the community of Conway that they cared that much about Abby," said Coyne.
Coyne said his phone started ringing off the hook since the statement was posted on the Bring Abby Home website at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"Frankly, it's not unexpected," said Coyne about all the phone calls. "I do legal analysis for New England Cable News and for WBZ as well. I understand these high-profile cases. I worked on (the Whitey Bulger case) with NECN. I've worked on a number of different cases."
Coyne understands the media needs information to report about the case.
"Everyone wants to know more and they want to know it immediately in this social media age," said Coyne. "The fact is that you've got to let the process unfold and allow law enforcement to do its work and the family be able to heal and get better and really allow the process to do what it's supposed to do. At it's best, it will do it effectively and will be able to get justice for Abby."
Coyne doesn't anticipate releasing more information in the foreseeable future.
"What she's really looking for is to be able to have some time to get physically and emotionally stronger," said Coyne.
When asked if he had any civil proceedings planned, Coyne said that issue hasn't been addressed.
"The fact is the focus here is to try and get justice for Abby, and what we hope is to assist law enforcement however we can to help get that accomplished," said Coyne. "I think at the end of the day we'll be able to get that done together."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Annual Bolduc Park Golf Tourney is this weekend

GILFORD — The Bolduc Park Association is holding its annual golf tournament Friday through Sunday, August 15-17. This marks the event's 21st year.

A $10,000 dollar prize is up for grabs in the hole-in-one contest, which is limited to amateur golfers only, along with cash prizes in putting and closest to the pin contests. Participants are asked to register at the park and play 18 holes on the course, anytime throughout the weekend.

The cost to participate is $20 for children 15 and under and $25 for players 16 and up. Tee times will be given out in 15 minute intervals on Friday and Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. The weekend will wrap up with awards and a chicken barbecue at Bolduc Park on Sunday afternoon.

The tournament is possible in part due to generous sponsorship from Bank of New Hampshire and Patrick's Pub. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Bolduc Park Association and the Youth Golf program.

For more information, or to sign up for the tournament visit the park at 282 Gilford Avenue on the Gilford/Laconia line or call the park office at 603-524-1370.
Bolduc Park is located on a 22-acre parcel of land which straddles the Laconia-Gilford town line and was once used a training facility for race horses when it was owned by the Fortin family. Bob Bolduc, owner of Piche's Ski Shop, now operated by his sons, bought the property in the 1970s, rehabilitated the old farm buildings, and turned the former three-quarter mile track into a cross-country ski training and racing facility.
In the 1990s he added a nine-hole par three golf course and turned Bolduc Park as a recreational facility open to the public in 1994. Everyone who works on the grounds at Bolduc Park is a volunteer, from the maintenance crew to the clubhouse hosts and hostesses. Every piece of equipment used to cut the grass, groom the bunkers and among other tools have been donated to the Bolduc Park Association, which has operated the facility since 1996.

 

Caption for pix slugged bolducgulf:

Preparing for the 21st annual Bolduc Park Association Golf Tournament which will be held August 15-17 are Randy Annis, Bolduc Park pro; Joan Grenke of Boston, Elaine Miller of the Bank of New Hampshire, Craig Jalbert, Bob DeGroot and Michele Loyer. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 01:25

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Council sends change to city's primary voting procedure to voters for final say

LACONIA — The City Council this week voted unanimously to place an amendment to the City Charter on the general election ballot in November that would authorize the City Clerk to declare a primary election unnecessary if no more than two candidates file for any particular office. At the same time, primary elections for the School Board and Police Commission would be eliminated altogether.
The council voted after a public hearing at which former mayor Tom Tardif warned the change would "create a lot of potential litigation."
The amendment would also move the filing period for municipal elections, which currently opens on the first Wednesday in June and closes on the following Friday, to August, approximately a month before the primary on the second Tuesday of September.
In addition, the amendment would tighten the requirements for write-in candidates to qualify for a place on the ballot for the municipal election in November. The provision that the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary are declared the winners and placed on the ballot, would carry a rider stipulating that a person who had not filed a declaration of candidacy and received fewer than 35 write-in votes would not be eligible for a spot on the general election ballot, The rider is intended to ensure that any write-in candidate who earns a place on the general election ballot has demonstrated an intent to serve by mounting a write-in campaign as reflected by polling a minimum number of votes.
Tardif took strong exception to requiring a minimum number of votes for write-in candidates to qualify for a place on the general election ballot. "There's an apathy here I'm sure you're all aware of," he told the councilors, explaining that low turnout would eliminate write-in candidates. For example, he said that if three divided a meager vote, a write-in candidate receiving the first or second greatest number of votes, but less than the minimum of 35, would not qualify.
Echoed by Dave Gammon, Tardif doubted the city had the authority to specify a minimum number of votes for write-in candidates and said the provision may not comply with the state Constitution.
City Clerk Mary Reynolds, who initiated the process to restructure the primary election, said that the proposed charter amendment has been reviewed not only by the city attorney but also by the New Hampshire Secretary of State and Attorney General, who suggested 35 votes as the minimum. Moreover, she said that Manchester, Nashua and Concord all require write-in candidates to poll a minimum of 35 votes.
When Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) wondered if "write-in candidates would be locked out," Mayor Ed Engler snapped "they've locked themselves out of a place on the ballot by not filing. We have a filing period for a reason."
The amendment would apply solely to the primary elections for the mayor and city councilors. There would no longer be primaries for seven members of the School Board, whose members serve staggered terms, that currently require a primary every year, or for the three seats on the Police Commission.
Laconia is one of three of the state's 13 cities to conduct municipal primary elections. Both the other two — Manchester and Keene — follow the procedure prescribed by the amendment.
In the eight primary elections between 1997 and 2011 voter turnout has averaged 9 percent. Last year when there were three candidates for mayor but no more than two for any of six city council seats the turnout was 6 percent. In three of the past eight elections — in 2003, 2009 and 2011 — primary elections were held even though there were not more than two candidates for either mayor or any of the six council seats.
Reynolds said that cost of conducting municipal primary elections is approximately $8,600, which does not include about $1,000 for police details at the polling stations at Woodland Heights Elementary School and Laconia Middle School.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 01:20

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