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Defense attorney: accused pot grower’s landlord was acting as agent of police

LACONIA — The attorney representing a Governors Island man accused of growing marijuana in the home he rented has asked a Belknap County Superior Court judge for permission to depose the man's landlord.

Corey LaPlante, 28, formerly of 47 Blueberry Hill Road in Gilford, is charged with two counts of manufacturing marijuana, two counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it, and one count of possession of marijuana.

Members of the N.H. State Drug Task force raided the home in October 2013 after learning from LaPlante's landlord that she had seen what she considered evidence of marijuana growing in the home she owned.

In court yesterday, Sisti asked for the court's permission to depose the landlord and if necessary to hold a hearing to determine whether or not she unlawfully entered LaPlante's home.

Sisti argued yesterday that she must have been in the home unlawfully prior to her announced visit because the affidavit prepared by police based on her alleged observations indicated the presence of a water filtration system that she could not have seen from the outside.

The landlord said she had been to the house on the day before her announced visit to assess some landscaping needs prior to her putting the home on the market.

Sisti argued yesterday that she went to the police with information she said she gathered from being outside the home, and the police told her to return to the house and bring someone with her. He argued that made her an agent of the police making her visit to the inside of the home unlawful.

The attorney said he was willing to put LaPlante on the stand to testify that when the landlord called him about the announced visit, he dismantled the water filtration system. So the only way the landlord could have seen it was if she was in his home before the announced visit.

In addition, Sisti said a second police officer called Public Service of New Hampshire and obtained LaPlante's electrical records. He noted that the records were included in the affidavit submitting seeking a warrant for the search meaning neither the police nor the landlord, again acting as an agent of the police, had the legal authority to view his client's electrical records.

"Once it got kicked into motion, there was a subpoena after the fact," he said. "How in the world they got that information is a mystery."

Sisti also asked that the Attorney General's office to make the landlord available for a deposition.

Assistant Attorney General James Vara said the landlord did not enter the house the first day she was there, but reported seeing the water filtration system in the basement from outside the house. He said taking a deposition from the landlord was unnecessary.

As to making the landlord available, Vara said she wasn't included on his witness list and if Sisti wanted to talk to her so badly, he had her contact information. "She's not a witness of ours," Vara said. "We have not obligation to make her available."

Vara said Sisti's argument for the deposition was based on "fluff."

Judge James O'Neill said he would rule on Sisti's deposition request before he would hear any motions to suppress any evidence gathered as a result of her information.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 12:32

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Laconia being sued over playground accident

LACONIA — A Franklin woman is suing the city for negligence and nuisance for injuries she sustained while pushing her granddaughter on the swings at Opechee Park in May of 2012.

Margaret Dolbeare, who was 74 when when the incident occurred, said she was walking toward the swing set when her right foot went under the edge of a mat and she fell on her left knee.

In her suit, filed on April 10, 2014, in Belknap County Superior Court, she claims she was unable to get up on her own and required assistance to get to her car so she could get home.

After a year of care with an orthopedic specialist, she underwent a total knee replacement on June 18, 2013.

Dolbeare argues that the city has a duty to maintain the premises of a public park including the maintenance and operation of its playground equipment.

She is asking for an unspecified amount of money for knee replacement surgery; pain, suffering and lost of enjoyment of life; permanent injury; past, current, and future medical expenses, and lost earning capacity. Dolbeare has asked for a jury trial, which has yet to be scheduled.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 April 2014 12:56

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Laconia marks Arbor Day with sugar maple planting

LACONIA — With help from some two dozen children from the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region, the Parks and Recreation Department celebrated Arbor Day yesterday by planting a Green Mountain Sugar Maple tree at Leavitt Park, near the playground not, far from the stump of a large oak.

Amy Lovisek of the Parks and Recreation Department began by quizzing the children about the virtues of planting and nurturing trees. Most questions prompted a variety of responses, but when she asked why the maple should stand close to the playground and pointed to the stump she drew a chorus of "shade!"

In preparation for the event the children had made a banner for Arbor Day, festooned with pictures of trees and leaves. But, they brought one of two banners they had made and to everyone's surprise when it was unfurled it read "Happy Birthday." More familiar with birthdays than Arbor Days, the mishap simply added to their enthusiasm.

Mayor Ed Engler was on hand to read a formal proclamation to mark the day. But, first he offered the children their first lesson in Latin, explaining that "arbor" means tree in Latin.

After two of the children read poems, Lovisek invited them all to spread the mulch around the base of the newly planted tree, reminding them as they and the tree grew older to remember they were here for its birthday.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 April 2014 12:53

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City Council will consider stand on 2-casinos bill that's before N.H. House

LACONIA — At the request of Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), the City Council will consider expressing its collective opinion for or against a bill to authorize two casinos in the state when it meets Monday night.

Senate Bill 366, which is co-sponsored by Senator Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), carried the Senate by a vote of 15 to 9 last month and is scheduled to come before the N.H. Hampshire House of Representatives for a vote on Wednesday. The House and Ways and Means Committee, by the narrowest majority of 11 to 9 has recommended the House, which for years has failed to muster a majority for expanded gambling, reject the bill. In March, a similar bill failed in the House by a margin of 173 to 144.

SB-366 would authorize private companies to build two casinos, one with between 2,000 and 3,500 slot and 80 and 1260 table games and another with between 750 and 1,500 slot machines and 25 and 80 table games. Each would carry a license fee, the first of $80-million and the second of $40-million. Together the casinos are projected to return between $139-million and $201-million in annual revenue to the state.

Unlike the bill that failed earlier in the session, SB-366 would earmark $25.2-million of the annual revenue from expanded gambling to restore revenue sharing to cities and towns, which has been suspended since 2009. The restoration of revenue sharing would allocate $1,141,135 a year to the city of Laconia and 10 towns in Belknap County. Laconia would receive $646,946, Alton $31,607, Branstead $42,519, Belmont $77,735, Center Harbor $25,930, Gilford $86,370, Gilmanton $32,896, Meredith $76,686, New Hampton $18,315, Sanbornton $22,146 and Tilton $79,985.

However, opponents of the bill claim that it will be five or six years before the revenue from casino operations begins to flow and, since no legislature can bind its successors, the restoration of revenue sharing cannot be assured.

Despite Hosmer's sponsorship of the bill, casino gambling has scant support among local lawmakers. Only three of the 18 members of the Belknap County Delegation supported the gambling bill that the House scuttled in March and all three representatives from Laconia — Reps. Don Flanders, Bob Luther and Frank Tilton — voted against it.

Four years ago, almost to the very day, at Lipamn's urging the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the Legislature  to pursue legislation to introduce casino gambling in order to address the state's mounting budget deficits, which added to the fiscal challenges weighing on cities and towns. The resolution followed a public forum hosted by the council attended by about a dozen residents, nine lawmakers and a lobbyist.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 April 2014 12:40

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