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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.
The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!
This Blog will not fall to outside hacks from anyone, especially insecure public officials afraid of their constituents criticism.
They had the chance to do the right thing, All they had to do was follow Pennsylvania's example and immediately fire Baldwin from the board which he fraudulently campaigned for.
Now that Baldwin has been fired from PA. He can give up his home there, trade in his PA driver's license for a NH license, and resume his seat, falsely claiming he intended for the PA job to be temporary, something Town Hall denizens say Billy was claiming when he signed up to run.
Once again Billy's corruption costs the taxpayers of Atkinson to further his ego. The selectmen can find neither spine nor starch with which to act on behalf of their constituents. Lets Recap;
Billy Signed up to run for what NH law calls an "office of profit". He did so knowing he lived and worked 500 miles away in a full time job, that required; a PA driver's license, thus forcing him to relinquishing his NH license, and therefore residency. Night and weekend availability, Attendance at borough meetings. He, knowing all of this ran for an office of profit, in a town where he had no domicile or residency. Many would call this fraud! And the fact that he openly spoke of this around the town hall, means the selectmen likely knew about his residency status, despite their hollow protests to the contrary. This could open them up to accessory charges.
Could this be why they are so reticent to do the right thing and refer this to the NHAG for investigation?
Time will tell, For now we can only draw the logical conclusion that the seectmen have no honor and are likely as corrupt as it appears Billy is.
Yes, the Eagle Tribune reported today that Selectman Baldwin Signed his PA offer of employment April 6, 2021 stating that the full time position would commence May 2021, from 8:30am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, from Police Headquarters. However the job would also involve, work on nights, holidays, and weekends at various times as well as attendance at Borough meetings. Billy also had to get a valid PA drivers license(meaning he had to relinquish his NH license, and provide two proofs of residency in PA.
When running for re election in Atkinson, Baldwin stated he resided in Atkinson full time.
The lies are inconsistent, and are being investigated by NH state officials.
Further , Middletown, PA. Mayor, Jim Curry told a news outlet that there were reasons for Baldwins termination beyond the DUI arrest. We await the thud of the other shoe.
Selectman Baldwin submitted his candidacy paperwork to run for the paid position of Selectman for the Town of Atkinson, NH. This paper requires residential domicile within the Town of Atkinson for the duration of the office. He signed this knowing full well he had been working and living for 8 months in a location 500 miles away from Atkinson. Thus potentially defrauding the Town.
In May of 2021, Billy accepted a full time salaried position as Public Safety Director in Mid Pennsylvania, at a salary of $112,000 per annum. This was not a temporary position as he led many in and around the Town Hall to believe when submitting his paperwork back in January. Oh no. Officials in PA thought they had a FT Director(read Chief of police). That is what they were paying for, or so they thought.
Flash forward 10 months, Billy wins re-election. He physically appears at the March 14, 2022, Selectmen's meeting to thank the town for their confidence in him. one of only 7 meetings he has physically attended since taking his full time job in Pennsylvania (That commute must be a b$%#h) On March 16, 2022 at approximately 9:43pm. Billy ran his truck off the road and into a tree, drunk. He blew almost double the legal limit. This incident happened in PA. 500 miles away from Atkinson. He was arrested, and charged. Last week his employers in PA. held a meeting and within 5 minutes voted to fire him, and appointed a replacement.
The problem is that while living and working 500 miles aay Billy knowingly mis represented his residency status here in Atkinson, in order to run for re-election. CLEARLY, someone who lives and works full time in Pennsylvania can not legally hold paid office in Atkinson. Actions like this with full knowledge are usually charged as fraud. How long would thi fraud be allowed to continue had he not, in a drunken stupor rammed his truck into a Pennsylvania tree?
Many of you will remember Billy's checkered past here in NH. After spending 2 years as a US Marine, he cross serviced to the US Coast Guard for another few years, then to the USCG reserve, from which he retired. (He likes to claim 10 years+ of service as a Marine, but that is nto quite accurate) After returning to Atkinson, he applied and was hired by the Atkinson PD. within 8 months Phil was promoting him to a Lt. position that the voters never created.
When called up to go to Kuwait(not Iraq as stated ad nauseum) Selectman Boyle generously offered for the Town to make up any loss in income between his town pay, and military pay, even advanced him $6,000 to bridge any gap. The town demanded Billy produce his military Leave and Earnings statement, in order to verify his pay. As any Veteran knows this is your monthly statement that verifies your pay and allowances. Billy chose not to comply. Instead he had his unit commander produce a "Commanders BASE PAY Letter". The problem is that when deployed your bas pay is about 40% your total pay. In support of Billy's attempt to lie about his pay, the most corrupt Chief in Atkinson's history repeatedly demanded the Town pay Billy $511/ week in supplemental pay, claiming that he and his family were suffering by the loss of over $2,000 in monthly income. That, too was a lie. In reality he was making $100 MORE being deployed than he did here in Atkinson. In essence Billy, with the assistance of Phil cravenly attempted to defraud the town of $25,000 over the year he would be deployed.
Many will remember many of the tales from Billy's tenure in neighboring police depts. Fired in Kingston after an alleged incident of him sleeping in his cruiser. Fired from Plaistow after an alleged incident of sex in a cruiser. And now this.
The question is; It appears his bosses in PA. acted appropriately by first suspending his pay immediately, then firing him.
WHY IS THE TOWN OF ATKINSON STILL PAYING HIM??
WILL THE SELECTMEN DO THE RIGHT THING, AND REFER FRAUD CHARGES TO THE NH AG, or try to sweep it under the rug as usual?
SALEM -- After repeated delays, former Atkinson police sergeant and D.A.R.E. officer Nathan Lyons will face trial this month on driving while intoxicated and other charges related to a crash in Newton in 2017.
Lyons, 37, of Plaistow, will stand trial April 17 on charges of DWI, conduct after an accident, and reckless conduct.
The case was originally set for trial in Salem Circuit Court last June, but it was postponed. It was eventually rescheduled for Jan. 23, but was delayed again after prosecutors informed the court that Emily Deguio, the alleged victim in the case, would be out of state and unavailable to testify.
Lyons, who resigned from the police department in the wake of the charges, has pleaded not guilty.
In addition to his role as a sergeant, Lyons taught the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program to local students.
The case is being prosecuted by the Strafford County Attorney’s office.
The DWI charge alleges that Lyons was driving an Acura TSX on North Main Street in Newton on Nov. 21, 2017, while “under the influence of intoxicating liquor and/or controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, or any combination thereof, which impairs a person’s ability to drive.”
Newton police have said Lyons struck Deguio’s car, failed to stop, and continued driving until he hit a utility pole on North Main Street.
Police allege that he also drove his car recklessly on Amesbury Road by pulling in front of Deguio and attempting to have her crash into him by stopping short and not letting her pass by him.
Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council sent a letter to the court last month requesting a copy of the final outcome of his case.
“Since Nathan J. Lyons is a certified officer with the state of New Hampshire, the matter of his arrest and/or conviction may involve action under state rules,” the letter said.
DERRY — A Hampstead police officer is suing the New Hampshire Attorney General, the town of Derry and the Derry Police Department because of the “badge of infamy” he says he bears due to his placement on the “Laurie List,” according to the court filing at the Rockingham County Court.
Also known as the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule or EES, the list of about 260 police officers with potential credibility issues is compiled by the Attorney General with information supplied by New Hampshire police departments.
Bryan Lamontagne, 27, is suing to take his name off the list.
His name was added to the list about nine months after he was accused, then cleared, of cheating on a police academy test. Derry’s Police Chief Edward B. Garone wrote the email that added him to the list in December 2017.
Since then, Lamontagne has been fighting to remove his name from the list because of its damage to his career. In the lawsuit, he is also accusing the police department and the Attorney General of not abiding by due process when placing him on the list.
“It’s a blacklist,” said Lamontagne's lawyer Timothy J. Goulden.
“It’s an affront to the American justice system that we have a 'Laurie List,'” he added.
In March 2018, Goulden sent letters to the Derry Police Department and the Attorney General’s office asking that Lamontagne's name be taken off the list.
After a year, Lamontagne's name was still on the list, and February Goulden filed the lawsuit.
“The Attorney General’s office maintains the list and can remove names,” Goulden explained. “But ultimately it is the police chief from any town who puts an officer on the list.”
When asked about Lamontagne, Derry Town Administrator David Caron said the town has yet to be served the complaint, and could not comment on the case until it is served. Lamontagne has until April 6 to serve the town and the Attorney General’s office with the complaint.
The Attorney General compiles the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule as a list of current and former police officers who may have credibility problems in court. Officers on the list have been connected to a variety of actions, including falsifying records or evidence, perjury, use of excessive force or other acts deemed egregious abuses of power. Prosecutors must disclose this type of information to a defense attorney when an officer is called to testify.
“It is important to recognize that inclusion on the EES does not mean that an officer is necessarily untrustworthy or dishonest — and in many cases the designation on the EES will make clear there is no question of dishonesty," the Attorney General’s office describes in a memo to law enforcement officials dated March 21, 2017.
However, Goulden contends that the list has not lived up to its intentions.
“Prosecutors aren’t doing the work to check out their witnesses. It was designed to be a shortcut and it hasn’t been administered correctly,” Goulden said. “And when it’s not, it becomes a costly process to get your name removed.”
Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey Ward, reiterated that the list is a tool for prosecutors meeting their Constitutional obligation.
“The point of all of this is meeting our Constitutional obligation to defendants,” Ward said.
Working in the criminal division, Ward could not comment on the case with Lamontagne, which will be handled through the civil division, he said.
According to court documents, Lamontagne was questioned on March 17, 2017, by a staffer from the police academy about a study guide he was given by a roommate that contained information about test questions.
“Lamontagne truthfully answered questions about the ‘study guide’ and reported the incident to Lt. Michaud at the Derry Police Department,” documents said. After disclosing what happened, he was subsequently dismissed, along with six other recruits, from the academy on March 21, 2017, and his employment with the Derry Police Department was terminated.
Lamontagne and his fellow classmates appealed their dismissals.
“All recruits were reinstated after the hearing,” court documents said. “The allegations of cheating were withdrawn, and the only substantiated allegation was possession of the unauthorized ‘study guide.’ The academy allowed Lamontagne to return to the police academy if he was a police officer. Chief Garone allowed Lamontagne to resign from the department and rescind the termination.”
On March 29, 2017, Lamontagne resigned from the Derry Police Department. In his settlement with the Police Standards and Training Council he was allowed to return apply for entry to the academy and would have to complete it again.
The following October he was hired by the Hampstead Police Department. During his background check there was no sign he was on the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule.
That’s because his name wasn’t added until Dec. 26, 2017 when Garone wrote a letter to the Attorney General, adding Lamontagne’s name to the list.
Citing Lamontagne’s dismissal from the academy, “the Derry Police did seek council from Patricia Conway, Rockingham County Attorney. RCA Conway in turn consulted with Senior Assistant Attorney General Lisa Woolford. We’ve received notice that both had concluded that Mr. Lamontagne’s name should be on the ‘EES’ list,” Garone wrote.
Lamontagne and the Hampstead Police Department were notified of Lamontagne’s placement on the list on Jan. 5, 2018. Since then he has been working to get his name off of the list.
The list’s history
This list got its nickname the “Laurie List” because of a 1995 New Hampshire case, State v. Laurie, which strengthened the rights of defendants in criminal cases. The precedent for the prosecution disclosing this type of information dates back to the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. It makes clear that prosecutors are constitutionally mandated to disclose a police officer's discipline to criminal defendants if it is considered exculpatory evidence – meaning that is favorable to the defendant – who could use it to impeach an officer’s testimony.
Currently there is lawsuit by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and six New Hampshire news outlets to make the entire list public. Right now, the officers' names and the dates of the alleged incidents are blacked out on the public version of the document, which shows the names of the police departments and the types of infractions officers are associated with.
The lawsuit may become unnecessary if a bill submitted by state Rep. Paul Berch, D-Westmoreland, becomes law.
The House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 155 out of committee unanimously with a bipartisan support. The bill seeks to make the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule a public document in its entirety. The House then passed the bill, and it is currently in committee in the Senate.
NASHUA – ACLU-NH and six news outlets argued in court Thursday that the list containing the names of 171 law enforcement officers with credibility problems should be public, while Solicitor General Daniel E. Will maintained it is confidential by law.
Will told Judge Charles S. Temple in Hillsborough Superior Court South that the list, formerly known as the Laurie list, should be kept secret because state law – RSA 105:13-b – requires police personnel files to be confidential, except when police discipline must be disclosed as evidence favorable to a defendant.
Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH’s legal director, argued the public has a right to know the names of the 171 officers who have been disciplined for matters involving dishonesty and untruthfulness.
“We’re dealing with misconduct that goes to the heart of what a police officer’s job is, that officer’s trustworthiness, the character traits that go to the core of an officer’s job functions,” Bissonnette said.
Such misconduct includes lying, falsification of records or evidence, any criminal conduct, egregious dereliction of duty and excessive use of force, Bissonnette said.
“This is serious misconduct,” he said. “The law does not protect these officers with the benefit of confidentiality.”
Bissonnette told Judge Temple the list, which is now called the Exculpatory Evidence Schedule, is not part of an officer’s personnel file, but a separate document not covered by the law mandating confidentiality.
Who is the department protecting under this policy? Bissonnette asked.
“It would include, for example, the two Manchester police officers that currently are under investigation and were subsequently terminated for soliciting sex from a suspect…” Bissonnette said. “The public interest in disclosure is high.”
Bissonnette, and the state’s top 1st Amendment lawyers, Gregory V. Sullivan and William Chapman, all argued to Judge Temple that RSA 105:13-b doesn’t apply in this case as Solicitor General Will insisted.
It is a separate document containing limited information about sustained police wrongdoing that is kept by the Attorney General’s Office. The police personnel file is kept by the officers’ employer, they argued.
“We think it clearly doesn’t apply to the (Exculpatory Evidence Schedule),” Bissonnette said.
The ACLU-NH, the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism, the named plaintiff in the case which publishes InDepthNH.org, and five of the state’s biggest news organizations filed the lawsuit. The Nashua Telegraph, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Concord Monitor/Valley News, the Portsmouth Herald/Foster’s Daily Democrat, and the Keene Sentinel, also joined the suit. All were originally denied access to an unredacted list of officers.
The officers’ names were redacted in the list that was released, but most of the departments that employed the officer were included and a very brief description the wrongdoing. Some also stated the date the officer’s name was added to the list.
Concord attorney Chapman of Orr and Reno made clear why the news organizations and the ACLU-NH believe the names should be a matter of public information.
“Without knowing the names of the police officers on the (Exculpatory Evidence Schedule) list, there is no way the public can hold the police – whether the police department, whether it’s the county attorney, whether it’s the Department of Justice – is fulfilling their Brady obligation. Without knowing who the officers are, the public has no ability to do that,” Chapman said.
Chapman was referring to a prosecutor’s constitutional obligation under the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brady v. Maryland. It requires evidence that is favorable to a defendant, including discipline that could negatively affect an officer’s ability to testify truthfully, be disclosed to the defendant before trial.
Failure to disclose could mean reversing a conviction if discovered later on. A prosecutor who withholds such evidence could be disciplined as well.
New Hampshire’s secret police list has been controversial since the public first learned of its existence in 2012. Defense lawyers say there is no way to be sure the favorable evidence is turned over as required. Police argue, too, that their careers can be ruined by being arbitrarily placed on the list because defendants could use the information to impeach an officer’s testimony.
On April 30, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald issued a memo to clarify an update on EES that had been released March 17, 2017, by his predecessor, former Attorney General Joseph Foster.
The Exculpatory Evidence Schedule after MacDonald updated the policy, is intended to alert prosecutors when testifying police officers have credibility, excessive force or mental health issues that resulted in discipline so they can disclose as required.
Attorney Sullivan, representing the New Hampshire Union Leader, said the state is basing its arguments favoring secrecy on the wrong statute.
“There is no law enforcement exemption in the right-to-know law,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the state Supreme Court recognized that in the Lodge v. Knowlton case and created a test to determine when law enforcement records should be made public.
Would release of the document interfere with law enforcement proceedings, deprive a person of a right to a fair trial, or constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy, Sullivan asked. The answer is no in each case, he said, so the list should be public.
Sullivan went over the 10 sections in the state’s motion to dismiss the right-to-know lawsuit, taking note of the fact that the state based its argument for secrecy by claiming the list is part of the officer’s confidential personnel file.
“We’re not talking about a personnel file,” Sullivan said. “We’re talking about a separate government document, an (Exculpatory Evidence Schedule) list maintained by the Department of Justice.”
Solicitor General’s view
Solicitor General Will said the reason the state Attorney General’s Office is involved in the case is simple.
“… the reason why we are having this dispute is because we are enforcing the current law,” Will said.
Will referred again to RSA 105:13-b claiming it clearly mandates the confidentiality of a police officer’s personnel file, except under Brady disclosure requirements.
“If the legislature had said, your honor, these police personnel files should be public, those files would be public,” Will said. “The legislature hasn’t said that.”
Instead, the legislature has made it clear – unequivocally and unambiguously – that police personnel files are strictly confidential except to discharge a prosecutor’s obligations to turn over favorable evidence to a criminal defendant, Will said.
The fact the list is located outside of the police personnel file makes no difference, Will said.
“The petitioners’ argument is best placed before the legislature,” Will said. “We’re here because our obligation, our job is to enforce the law as written.”
Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoffrey W.R. Ward said the list of 171 names isn’t necessarily what the new protocol calls for. Instead it is a work in progress since all of the departments haven’t yet been certified to the new MacDonald standards.
For the first time, the new protocol offers police officers an avenue to remove their names from the list if they believe they were wrongly added.
Ward explained that the policy is new and still in flux.
Some officers on the list may have been placed on the list by police chiefs who were erring on the side of caution and some may not have exhausted their right to challenge the placement as now required, he said. The new protocol requires an officer be given due process to remove his or her name before being added to the list.
There may still be officers who didn’t know they were on the list who come forward to challenge placement, Ward said.
Sullivan was concerned the process of seeking removal from the list will continue as long as there is a list and shouldn’t hinder the release of the names presently on the list.
“That process is going to go on ad infinitum,” Sullivan said, adding the lawsuit doesn’t seek the names of the officers who have already asked to be removed.
Judge Temple allowed for both sides to file written briefs and responses.
After the hearing, Ward said of the 246 towns and law enforcement agencies, there remain 78 agencies that haven’t been certified to the new protocols.
PLAISTOW — The state Board of Education has reversed its previous decision ordering School Administrative Unit 55 to hold a hearing about a complaint by former Timberlane Regional School Board member Donna Green, and referred the complaint to the state Department of Education for further review.
Green said that she was relieved by the turn of events.
"I have an important complaint," Green said. "So far I've been through one procedural obstruction after another thanks to SAU 55's extravagant use of legal resources. I look forward to my complaint finally being examined on its merits now that the Department of Education is taking it under investigation."
Superintendent Earl Metzler said that he is confident the DOE will also dismiss the complaint.
"I would say this brings yet another political stunt to end by Donna Green with the same result," said Metzler. "She wastes time and money for her own political resume. This was nothing more than a lame attempt to obstruct the work of the SAU."
The complaint process began in July 2017, when Green asked the BOE for a hearing about her complaint against SAU 55 — which encompasses the Hampstead and Timberlane school districts and shares a superintendent — claiming that the SAU violated state law in regards to setting salaries for employees.
Specifically, Green questioned the legality of the June hiring of Business Operations Coordinator Thomas Geary, arguing that the SAU 55 board did not set Geary's salary, as is required by state law.
Because this issue was not discussed at the local level first, the BOE dismissed Green's initial request for a hearing until the SAU 55 board could hold a hearing.
During the Oct. 4 SAU board meeting, the board discussed and dismissed Green's request for a hearing, which then prompted Green to file a new request with the BOE.
The SAU's attorney followed by filing a motion to dismiss the complaint, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
While the state hearing office recommended that the BOE dismiss the case because of jurisdiction, at their Jan. 11 meeting, the BOE decided to hear the case and ordered the SAU to hold a full fact-finding hearing on the issue.
The SAU then filed an appeal with the state.
On Feb. 14, the BOE rescinded its decision about the SAU hearing, and referred Green's complaint to the DOE for further review and investigation.
Metzler said the SAU attorney is following up with the DOE to understand the next steps and how to file an appeal.