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New Hampton man to serve 12 months for threatening roommates

nBy GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A 20-year-old New Hampton man who affixed a knife to his arm and threatened to attack his three former roommates last May will spend 12 months in the Belknap County Jail.

William Clement, 20, formerly of 12 Pine Meadow Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and two counts of felony criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. A charge of resisting arrest was dropped.

As part of a negotiated agreement, Clement will serve two concurrent 12-month sentences in jail and will seek and pay for mental health counseling within 45 days of his release.

Clement was also sentenced to two 2 ½ to 5 year sentences in the New Hampshire State Prison, which were suspended for five years. Should he re-offend, that state prison time could be imposed.

Clement will also spend three years on probation. He was credited with 136 days of pretrial confinement.

One of his victims told the court that she didn't think jail was the right place for him. She said she'd known him for a long time, that he was a wonderful person who had hit a rough patch in his life, and that she felt he needed mental health treatment and not jail.

When explaining to the judge why he thought Clement's agreement was sufficient, attorney Justin Littlefield said that his client really needs to get his mental health under control and that the May incident was a piece of that mental health issue.

Littlefield explained that Clement is very young and has never been in trouble with the law before. He also told the court that while Clement was awaiting trial, his father, who was a well-known New Hampton firefighter, died of a heart attack while in the line of duty and Clement was unable to attend his funeral.

Littlefield added that Clement's mother and sister were there in court along with some friends and said Clement will have a support system when he gets out of jail.

Under direct questioning from Judge James O'Neill, Clement told the court that he was young and dumb when the incident occurred.

"Losing my father was a real kick," said Clement, who added his father was his hero because he was always helping people. He said he wants to put his crimes behind him and also be able to help people.

"You got a break today," said O'Neill, accepting the agreement. "Don't disappoint your mother and sister,"

Judge weighs decision in dispute over work at Tenney Mountain

By BEA LEWIS, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A Center Harbor man and his one-time employer faced each other in court on Tuesday after their parting left such hard feelings on both side that each filed a lawsuit.

Keith Fitzgerald claims he was hired by Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC to act as chief operating officer and oversee a major redevelopment and expansion of the shuttered Plymouth ski area.

During the course of his work, Fitzgerald maintains he supplied certain equipment, and the understanding between the parties was that a tractor and other heavy equipment were to be used during the project and that Fitzgerald would be compensated for their use.

Previously, a judge granted Fitzgerald a $375,000 attachment against the ski area's real estate pending resolution of the dispute.

Meanwhile, Michael Bouchard, the president of TMDG, who is not named as a defendant in Fitzgerald's suit, filed a counterclaim alleging that he was duped into giving Fitzgerald money under false pretenses.

Attorney James Laura of Concord, who represents Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC, acknowledged during the hearing that Fitzgerald owns the equipment that is the source of the litigation, but told the judge it is being held as collateral for the money Fitzgerald was loaned and has failed to repay.

"It's odd how the relationship started," Laura said, asserting that Bouchard's vision was to redevelop the defunct ski area and that Fitzgerald learned of those plans and approached him, saying he had considerable experience in securing EB-5 funding and that his company Golden Gate Investment Advisers could make TMDG a Regional Center for all other EB-5 activities.

The EB-5 program was approved by Congress in the 1990s, with the goal of stimulating the economy and job growth by giving foreign nationals the chance to become permanently legal residents in exchange for investing at least $500,000 to create or preserve at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. Laura told Judge James O'Neill that Fitzgerald showed
Bouchard a stack of documents that proved false and noted that Golden Gate is not even registered as a business entity with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.

But attorney Rob Hunt of Franklin, who represents Fitzgerald, asserted that neither TMDG nor Bouchard has ever sent his client a demand for payment or ever produced any evidence of a promissory note or other loan document.

While Bouchard claims he lent Fitzgerald $20,000 to post bail on unrelated criminal charges, Hunt said, his client's arrest came 3.5 months after the alleged payout and that the court released Fitzgerald on personal recognizance that required the posting of no cash.

"Basically, they're holding the property ransom without giving a ransom amount," he asserted.

According to Laura there were no written contracts.

"Mr. Bouchard is a Knight of Malta and took Keith Fitzgerald on his word, helped him out when he thought he was in trouble as Fitzgerald had been helping him," Laura said.

Instead, Laura claimed that Fitzgerald misrepresented himself and his qualifications which prompted his client to pony up $30,000 to retain a consultant and lawyers to work on securing EB-5 financing. While the retainers were paid, Laura told the judge that Fitzgerald was able to convince the recipients to return the money, which he then pocketed.

"This was a good faith loan with nothing in writing between what we thought were two gentlemen," Laura said.

He asserted that Fitzgerald "conned his way" into the project, and then began "slandering" Bouchard to the investors.

The redevelopment of the ski area is a $450 million project and Fitzgerald's allegedly slanderous statements to investors have cost Bouchard 10 percent or $4.5 million, Laura claimed. The dispute has stalled the project and unsettled investors.

Hunt pointed out that the defendants have never provided the dates of the purported loans or whether they were made via cash or check. Bouchard's complaint to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office about Fitzgerald prompted an investigation and a review of his client's books and his IRS 1099 showing the income he received as a
contractor.

Hunt has asked the court to order the return of a number of items key among them a 4-by-4 tractor with multiple attachments, a zero-turn mower, a brush mower, a 1955 Willey's Jeep, a Honda ATV, a Motorola radio system with repeater and transceiver, a freestanding 75-foot tower, five mobile radios, a drill press and 4,000 feet of premium pine
lumber. During Tuesday's hearing, Laura represented that TMDG spent $6,000 to make the needed repairs to get the Mahindra tractor running.

Fitzgerald, 50, has been charged with five counts of theft by unauthorized taking and one count of receiving stolen property in connection with his alleged handling of his late father's assets. He recently declined the terms of a plea deal and his trial is now scheduled to begin in February 2017.

Judge O'Neill took the motions in the civil case under advisement and will issue a written order sometime in the next 90 days.

12-09 Keith Fitzgerald

Keith Fitzgerald, left, of Center Harbor, and his lawyer Robert Hunt of Franklin, appeared in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

12-09 Michael Boucher

Michael Bouchard, president of Tenney Mountain Development Group LLC, and his attorney, James Laura of Concord, appeared in Belknap County Superior Court on Tuesday to dispute claims by the company's former COO Keith Fitzgerald of Center Harbor. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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County delegation to organize, take look at county budget

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Belknap County Delegation will meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at the Belknap County complex for an organizational meeting and to take its first look at a proposed $28,034,331 county budget.
Rep. Herb Vadney (R-Meredith), vice chairman of the current delegation, said that in addition to naming a chairman, vice chairman and clerk, the delegation will also likely select members of its Executive Committee.
Current delegation Chairman Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) has been ill and was not present to be sworn in on Wednesday with other legislators. Also missing the ceremony, with permission, was Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton).
The proposed amount to be raised by taxes in the budget which was recommended by the Belknap County Commission is $13,837,174, 6.31 percent higher than this year's $12,963,440, but the same amount which was raised in 2015.
Commissioners David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) last Friday to agreed to a compromise on the budget, breaking a three-way impasse.
Both Taylor and DeVoy had backed different budget totals, while Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) would not support any of the three proposed budgets under consideration without cuts in the administration budget.
At one point the commissioners sought advice from attorney Paul Fitzgerald about resolving the impasse and were told that if they could not agree on the budget they should submit three different budgets to the Belknap County Delegation. As Fitzgerald was relaying his advice by phone to County Administrator Debra Shackett, DeVoy and Taylor agreed to a compromise in which two positions which Taylor supported filling remained in the budget and cuts proposed by DeVoy were adopted.
Taylor had maintained that the commissioners should submit a budget which met the needs of the county while DeVoy, whose district includes the city of Laconia, said that he wanted to keep the increase within Laconia's property tax cap limits. Neither prevailed.
The compromise would see a county human resources director hired for $65,540 and a full-time dispatcher hired for $42,645 added to the Belknap County Sheriff's Department. Major cuts recommended by DeVoy included $35,575 for part-time deputy sheriffs, $10,000 for part-time dispatchers and $69,220 for part-time corrections officers.
DeVoy pointed out that the budget still includes new positions for the Belknap County Corrections Department and the new Community Corrections Center, scheduled to open in September.
He said the county is facing over $900,000 in increases due to contractual obligations in next year's budget.

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