Change in civil forfeiture policy unlikely to affect NH


LACONIA — A policy change announced this week by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't likely to greatly increase seizure of cash, cars or other property of people suspected of crimes but not charged, a New Hampshire federal prosecutor said.

Such seizures, known as civil asset forfeiture, are allowed under some circumstances in the federal court system. In New Hampshire state court cases, property can't be seized unless there is a conviction.

The policy change by Sessions would potentially give state and local prosecutors a work-around, allowing them to use federal civil asset forfeiture laws instead of operating under the more restrictive state statute.

However, this isn't likely to happen very frequently, said Rob Rabuck, an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire.

He said there is a policy preference within the Justice Department that forfeiture procedures, should “follow the prosecution,” or be handled under the rules governing the prosecutor.

“My expectation would be that if a case is prosecuted in the state system, any forfeiture should be done as part of that system,” he said.

If the case is prosecuted in the federal system, federal rules would apply.

The new policy could have impact in specific cases. It could, for example, make it easier to undertake federal civil asset forfeiture proceedings in cases that began in state court and are later transferred to federal court.

Rules for federal civil asset forfeiture require a showing that the property seized represents proceeds from a crime or was used to facilitate a crime.

Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said federal, state and local law enforcement work closely on serious criminal cases, particularly involving dangerous opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.

She her office would discuss the new policy with U.S. Attorney's office.

“We see it as a positive,” she said.

Rep. Mike Sylvia, R-Belmont, said his House Bill 614, pending in the state Legislature, would prohibit New Hampshire law enforcement agencies or prosecutors from entering into agreements to transfer seized property to a federal agency unless it includes more than $100,000 in cash.

He has due process concerns about the federal system allowing seizure of assets before conviction. He feels greater protections are needed to make sure state and local prosecutors don't use that system as a way to avoid the state law requiring conviction before property seizure.

Sylvia said law enforcement can become overly focused on seizing money when this money is used to support their own operations.

“It's just a bad idea to let law enforcement fund themselves,” he said. “That's banana republic stuff.”

Sunday deliveries help overcome US Postal Service shortfalls

On a given Sunday, the United States Postal Service delivers 300 packages in Gilford and Laconia, and has been doing so for about a year.
“The customers love it,” said Michael Quinn, officer in charge of the Laconia Post Office.
Just a few years ago, seeing a decline in first-class mail as customers turned to email, instant messaging, and social media for regular communications, the postal service was looking to restrict mail delivery to five days a week, eliminating Saturday deliveries. Now it delivers Express Mail and packages seven days a week, although not all locations handle the Sunday mail. The Laconia Post Office is the distribution center for Gilford and Laconia, Quinn said.
Steve Doherty, USPS communications specialist, said the internet age has not only transformed the way people purchase products, it has shifted their mail habits. That led Former Postmaster General Patrick Donahue to suggest eliminating Saturday deliveries as a cost-saving measure, estimating that it would save as much as $3 billion a year.
Postal unions campaigned against cuts, saying it would deny necessary services to the elderly and rural residents, and members of Congress blocked the plan, passing legislation that required service at least equal to what was offered in 1984.
Yet the postal service was seeing another trend that offered a way to make up some of that lost first-class revenue. Many online retail companies were promising premium delivery in one day.
“It was what our customers were looking for,” Doherty said. “The business need was there, and we stepped up.”
Even before Donahue’s proposal to reduce Saturday delivery, was approaching the postal service about a partnership to deliver packages on Sundays and holidays. In 2013, it announced a pilot project to have the postal service make Sunday package deliveries in Los Angeles and New York, gradually expanding to other cities through a five-year contract.
“We were already delivering Express Mail on Sundays,” Doherty said, noting that carriers had been making all-weekend deliveries around the holidays for at least a decade in order to keep up with the Christmas rush. “But offering Sunday deliveries year-round has evolved more recently.”
While first-class mail has continued to decline, Doherty said, “Our business has been shifting with the boom of online retailers, and we’ve been adapting our business model to suit that.”
“There were challenges, I suppose,” Quinn said, noting that he was not there when Laconia began delivering packages on Sundays. “With any new process, it takes a while to work out the bugs, but it was invisible to our customers.”
Postal workers remain divided on the issue of Sunday mail deliveries, some seeing it as an opportunity to make extra money and others seeing it as an intrusion into their weekends.
Lakes Region postal workers did not want to go on the record with their views, referring inquiries to Doherty or Quinn. Off the record, however, some cited the additional sorting required for Sunday package delivery as a negative and said they are glad that job currently falls to the Laconia Post Office.
Quinn said he has a temporary clerk who sorts the Sunday packages, while subs — part-time or contracted workers — handle the deliveries.
“We have hired some just to work on Sundays,” Quinn said. “Some people want to earn extra money.”
Doherty also said many of the carriers are happy doing Sunday work because it provides flexibility.
A July 14 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Josh Sandbulte, whose money-management firm owns FedEx stock, claimed that the USPS’ fixed costs have risen faster than the income from package delivery and he argued that first-class mail is subsidizing Amazon package delivery.
Doherty responded, “If it wasn’t profitable, we wouldn’t be doing it.”
He said Amazon, while a major player, is not the only company that uses the postal service for Sunday deliveries. He said there are a number of ways that retailers can get special rates, including by presorting, getting their product close to the delivery point, and shipping by volume, “but that’s across the board to any of our shippers. The more sorting you do, the cheaper it is.”
He did acknowledge that “A lot more money goes into the processing and packaging of deliveries,” but he said, “Each of our products is designed to stand on its own, as far as profitability.”
“We’ve had a shift away from full-time to a flexible work force, where their typical week may be Thursday through Monday, so no overtime costs are associated with Sunday deliveries,” he said. “When you look at the hours, some people find it suits their personal life. It’s not for everyone, obviously, but finding people to work on Sundays has not been a problem.”
Quinn said Laconia is fully staffed right now, but said anyone who wants to work Sundays should apply at
As to customers, Doherty said, “Years ago, people didn’t expect Sunday delivery. Now they want it right away, and we’re adapting.
“Doing away with six-day delivery and going to five days was a thought at one time, but with this new era of overnight packaging, I don’t foresee that coming back up as a suggestion. I don’t think the public was generally opposed to the elimination of Saturday mail deliveries, but when you put packages into it, it’s a different story. That shifts our dynamic away from the thought of five-day delivery,” Doherty said.

Laconia Police Log 6/13-July 6

LACONIA — The Laconia Police Department responded to 1,260 calls between June 12 and July 5, including 28 involving thefts, 10 involving assaults and nine involving drugs.

A total of 39 people were arrested, including:

June 12

Travis M. Vachon, 29, of 157 Fisher Hill Road, Concord, on a charge of criminal trespass; Bethanie Mazzaglia, of 22 Windsong Place, Meredith, on a charge of default or breach of bail conditions; Paul M. Doherty, 53, a transient, on a charge of criminal trespassing.

June 13

Shane Bartlett, 40, of 176 Reservoir Road, on a charge of driving under the influence; Shirley A. Prescott, 48, a transient on a charge of drinking in public; Deborah Sterl, 53, a transient, on a charge of drinking in public; Lorene B. Ellis, 45, of 61 Pine Crest Drive, Gilford, on a charge of driving under the influence; Nicole M. Sousa, 28, of 12 Pleasant St., Apt. 21, on a bench warrant.

June 14

Justin Lindquist, 26, of 53 Dream Hill Terrace, Farmington, on a charge of driving after suspension; Kelly Hagan Gorgas, 27, of 40 Hillside Drive, Apt. 24, Gilford, on a bench warrant and a charge of driving after suspension.

June 16

Jessica M. Polito, 28, of 480 Main St., Apt. 300, on charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct, criminal threatening.

June 17

James John Cook, 26, of 21 Acadeemy Square, on a charge of operating without a valid license; Casey R. Brown, 25, 12 Winter Street, Apt. 0, on a bench warrant; Christopher J. Pise, 530 York Ave., Apt. 6, Pawtucket, N.J., on a charge of possession of controlled drugs.

June 18

Ryanne McCann, 30, of 7 Gillis St., Nashua, on a charge of driving after revocation or suspension; Melinda A. Bastraw, 46, of 149 Valley St., Apt. 2, on a warrant; Seth M. Houston, 35, of 103 Blueberry Lane, Apt. 83, on charges of domestic violence; Shannon L. Gauthier, 39, of 41A Gilford Ave., on a bench warrant; Hugo Rodriguez, 53, a transient, on charges of criminal threatening and simple assault.

June 19

Shane McCarthy, 33, a transient, on a warrant.

June 22

Joshua D. Hunter, 22, a transient, on a bench warrant; Shane Michael Duval, 29, of 16 Kimball Road, Gilford, on warrants.

June 23

Albert W. Jenna, 60, of 43 High St., Apt. 1, on a charge of driving under the influence.

June 24

Chad Brooks, 19, of 20 Jewett St., Apt. 3, on a bench warrant.

June 25

John Arthur Cathcart, 52, a transient, on a bench warrant; Caleb A. Young, 23, of 20 Cleveland Place, Apt. 5, on a warrant; Morgan R. Thibeault, 23, of 49 Union Road, Belmont, on charges of domestic violence; Jay Hirst Plyler, 55, of 15 Nestledown Drive, Apt. C, on a charge of violation of a protective order.

June 26

Aaron R. Hickey, 34, of 211 Intervale Road, on a charge of driving under the influence.

June 27

Derek Joseph Hilliard, 29, of 10 Valley Street, on charges of reckless conduct and placing another in danger.

June 28

Ronald H. Steele III, 23, a transient, on charges of domestic violence (violation of a protective order) and default or breach of bail conditions; Marcus James Burke, 39, of 123 Union Ave., Apt. 9, on charges of possession of controlled drugs and possession of narcotic drugs.

June 29

Timothy E. Peavey, 57, a transient, on a bench warrant.

June 30

Jeremiah Paul Valton, 39, a transient, on a bench warrant.

July 2

Robert Kenneth Kelly, 36, of 322 South Main St., Apt. B, on a charge of driving after suspension; Sanja Pesa, 28, of 314 Union Ave., Apt. 2, on a bench warrant.

July 3

Benjamin A. Ricks, 35, a transient, on charges of posession of controlled/narcotic drugs; Jared Riley, 34, a transient, on charges of possession of controlled/narcotic drugs; Nicole A. Manley, 35, of 24 Province St., on a charge of criminal trespass; Richard A. Guidi Jr., 18, of 11B Jewett St., on a bench warrant.

July 4

Daniel Lee Hill Jr., 32, of 1 Mile Hill Road, Belmont, on a bench warrant and a charge of driving after suspension.

July 5

Timothy E. Peavey, 57, a transient, on charges of aggravated driving while intoicated and driving after suspension; Thomas Henry Leblanc, 43, of 62 Maple St., Apt. 2, Putnam, Conn., on charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest.