State gives $650,000 in tax credits toward Colonial Theatre


LACONIA — The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority has awarded the Belknap Economic Development Council $650,000 in tax credits towards financing the renovation and restoration of the Colonial Theatre.

Justin Slattery, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, said Tuesday that the award matched what was budgeted for this component of the $15 million financial package that will fund the project.

"We knew that the Community Development Finance Authority received 62 applications for more than $15 million from the competition," he said, explaining that with $5 million in tax credits available "We knew that it would be a very competitive process."

Altogether, 17 nonprofit organizations were awarded $5.325 million, with the award to the Belknap Economic Development Council representing the largest single award. Slattery said that the council will go through a bank to sell the tax credits to private investors.

New Market tax credits, along with tax credits awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior for historic restoration, and grants from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, New Hampshire Community Development Block Grant program and United States Environmental Protection Agency will also provide funding for the project.

Meanwhile, Slattery said that the capital campaign, which aims to raise $2 million from private businesses, civic organizations and individual donors is gathering momentum. He indicated that announcements of significant contributions would be forthcoming.

Meredith man arrested in drug raid


LACONIA — A Meredith man is being held on $50,000 cash or corporate surety bail after being arrested for several counts of sales of heroin during a week-long selling spree in early August.

08-17 Michael Veinot

Michael J. Veinot, 43, of 119 Livingston Road was arrested early Monday morning at his home by the members of the state Drug Task Force and the Meredith Police.

He faces three separate counts of selling at least four grams of heroin to a cooperating individual who was working with the drug task force and one charge of conspiracy to sell heroin.

Affidavits obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court said the task force began its investigation of Veinot on July 27.

The cooperating individual knew Veinot and his wife and told police he/she met the couple through a mutual friend. He/she said they initially purchased a few 30 mg oxycodone pills from them.

Two months later, the individual randomly came across Veinot and his wife and was told by Veinot that he was looking for someone who could sell larger quantities of heroin for him.

With that information in hand, members of the task force arranged for four purchases of heroin, three of which were for amounts greater than four grams. One transaction was allegedly conducted by Veinot's wife but, to date, she has not been charged.

In court Tuesday, Belknap County Prosecutor R.J. Meurin asked for $50,000 cash-only bail, telling the court that Veinot had prior convictions in New Hampshire for felony criminal threatening and burglary in 2010 and 2011 as well as some minor drug convictions in 2006 in New York.

He said he considered Veinot a flight risk because of his New York connections.

Meurin added that Veinot presents a danger to the community in that at least three of the four sales were of relatively large amount of heroin and that it was clear he was making money from these sales. He also requested a source-of-funds hearing to determine that, if Veinot posted bail, the money didn't come from illegal activity.

Veinot's attorney Sheldon "Steve" Mirkin said his client is sick and needs to be in rehabilitation. He asked for $100,000 personal recognizance bail and $1,000 cash with the stipulation that Veinot's bail be reduced to personal recognizance provided he gets into a secure rehab facility.

During a brief recess, called so Mirkin could get the criminal record for his client from the prosecution, Veinot spent most of his time with his head down on the defendant's table.

Mirkin said Veinot works full time, has medical insurance and is the sole support of his 9-year-old child.

Presiding Justice Jame's O'Neill ordered $50,000 cash or corporate surety bail. Should Veinot post bail, additional conditions are a source-of-funds hearing, an order that he not leave New Hampshire, that he sign a waiver of extradition, and that he report to the Belknap County Restorative Justice team for bail supervision and random drug and alcohol screening.

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.