American Hockey Institute sued for breach of contract


LACONIA — A Massachusetts mother has filed suit in Belknap County Superior Court against the American Hockey Institute LLC demanding her son's tuition be reimbursed because neither the academic or athletic portions of her contract were fulfilled.

Maria Theresa Pratt of Cambridge claims John Fontas, the manager of the AHI offered her son placement into the AHI's Eastern Hockey League Premier Junior team.

The AHI is a foreign corporation registered in New Hampshire with a legal address of 468 Province Road in Laconia or the Merrill Fay Ice Arena.

She said her son attended a session at Waterville Valley Academy where they were promised an academic program that contained "20 hours per week of structured non-traditional classroom time" that included a content-knowledgeable teacher, a meeting with a college adviser and college placement assistance.

Pratt said they were told Steve Jacobs, who is a "highly regarded hockey coach" who had been at Cushing Academy, would be coaching her son's team.

She claims that all of the above statements were false, misleading and made with "conscious indifference to the truth" and she wants the $24,500 tuition she paid reimbursed to her, plus damages and legal fees.

She also claims she relied on false information provided on their website that said a nutritionist and a sports psychologist would be there to provide services.

Pratt claims that she paid AHI the tuition of Sept. 1, and on Sept. 8 learned that Mykul Haun would be the head coach of the team, not Steve Jacobs.

She said that she also learned that Haun's wife, Samantha Turner, was the "teacher" and, to the best of Pratt's knowledge, was not qualified for the position.

Pratt says her son began to fall behind academically because of the "complete lack of academic structure at AHI" and the failure of them to abide the terms of the contract.

Specifically, she claimed that her son was not initially provided with the 20 weeks of academic teaching and that he had not been provided the college adviser and college placement meetings they had been promised.

Pratt claims that in September she began making phone calls to Jacobs, Fortas and Robert Sampson, who at the time was the headmaster at Waterville Academy, to try and secure the academic portion of her son's contract.

On Oct. 20, 2015, she met with Jacobs and Fontas to address their failure to meet the terms of the contract. She said she was offered the services of an "(advanced placement) statistics tutor to remedy the academic deficiencies.

They also told her that if her son left the program, the team would be "short" because of injuries to other players.

On Oct. 21, 2015, Fontas took over as head coach of the team but Pratt said she never received any information or communication regarding her son's academic program.

She removed her son from the program on Oct. 31, 2015, and began the process of trying to get her money back.

The suit claims she made repeated efforts to recovery her money and that the alleged breach of contract had directly and indirectly damaged her and her son.

She is suing on ground of breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement and a violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act.

Pratt says AHI knew it couldn't deliver the programs specified in the contract but entered into the contract willingly.

She has demanded a jury trial.

The AHI has yet to respond to the suit.

‘Smear campaign’ against county commissioner both denied, supported


LACONIA — Charges levied by County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) regarding a smear campaign against fellow Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) regarding a county sales tax, allegedly launched at meeting at a Gilford restaurant, have been supported by a former state representative and denied in part by participants at the meeting.

Former state Rep. Bob Greemore (R-Meredith) said he was told by Rep. George Hurt (R-Gilford) that he shouldn't have a sign at his business property on Route 104 supporting Belknap County Commission candidate Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) claiming Taylor supports a county sales tax, which he does not support.
"I told him (Hurt) that I thought it was inappropriate for him to tell me who I could support. I told him that what he was saying wasn't factual. I have talked with Hunter and I know he doesn't support a county tax," said Greemore, who said that he continues to support Taylor and that the sign still remains on his property,
Greemore said Hurt was at his property to put up a sign for state Senate District Two candidate Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) when the discussion with Hurt took place. "I told him I could make up my own mind and that as far as I was concerned any Republican who wanted to put up a sign was free to do so as long as they asked for permission."
He said that he subsequently had a discussion with County Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) about the Hurt visit and that he is the person referred to by DeVoy in a letter to the editor published in Tuesday's Laconia Daily Sun which criticizes Hurt.
DeVoy claimed in an earlier letter printed in last Tuesday's Laconia Daily Sun that Hurt and Rep. Ray Howard (R-Alton) were part of a smear campaign directed at Taylor by what he claimed was alliance between Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) and Jonathan Smolin (R-Alton), who is running against Taylor in the primary.
Burchell and Smolin have denied their campaigns are linked but have expressed support for each other.
In his letter, DeVoy charged that Burchell and Smolin were both present at a meeting at a Gilford restaurant along with Hurt and Howard and four other individuals at which advertising for the upcoming primary election was discussed. Rep. Hurt said the meeting described by DeVoy never took place and expressed his support for Smolin in a letter published in last Wednesday's Daily Sun.
Two of those who attended the meeting described by DeVoy, Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) and Rep. Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford), say that neither Burchell nor Howard were present at the meeting held several weeks ago at the Lakeside Restaurant in Gilford.
Vadney said that he and Aldrich were at the meeting, along with Republican candidates Norm Silber of Gilford and Marc Abear of Meredith. Hurt, who is not running for re-election, and Smolin were also present.
Both Vadney and Aldrich said there was no discussion about Taylor and a county sales tax and that discussion centered on advertising for the upcoming campaign and possible coordination of efforts.
"I called the meeting about five or six weeks ago, right after the filing period was over," said Vadney, who said that he had sent an email to the other candidates.
He said he was opposed to the idea floated at the meeting by Hurt that the four candidates for the state representative seats should tie Smolin into their campaign. But it was later agreed that they would run an ad in the Gilford Old Home Day program and that Smolin would be included at the bottom of the ad.
"George Hurt had done the ad for us two years ago and I assume that he's the one who had it put in this year's Old Home Day program," said Vadney.



Two arrested when found in house

LACONIA — City police have charged two men with one count each of criminal trespass after a person reported they were in a house at 57 Adams St. Saturday without permission.

Capt. Matt Canfield said the witness told police he saw one man enter the house through the back door and let a second man in through the side door.

Canfield said police found Aaron Rae, 27, of 455 Pine St. in Manchester, and John B. Bixby, 27, who is transient, in the house. He said it appears Bixby tried to pull away from arresting officers and faces a single charge of resisting arrest.

Police said they believe the house was unoccupied.

– Gail Ober