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Archive for the ‘MISCELLANEOUS CRIMES’ Category

By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff
Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Vermont man accused of leading police on a chase that topped 100 mph early Sunday morning appeared in Keene District Court on Monday.

James Davis, 39, of Springfield, Vt., was arraigned on charges of driving with an open container of alcohol, driving while intoxicated, reckless operation, disobeying police and driving after his license was suspended — his second offense.

A Bellows Falls police officer saw a vehicle driving erratically at about 2 a.m. just before the car crossed over the New Arch Bridge spanning the Connecticut River and entered Walpole on Route 12, said village police Sgt. Shane Harris.

The officer notified dispatch, giving Walpole officers a heads-up as the vehicle entered town.

Walpole police Officer Michael P. Milano was patrolling on Route 12 near the Bellows Falls village line when he heard the bulletin.

“The vehicle came around the corner, almost half in my lane, and then we went for a ride,” Milano said.

Milano chased the suspect’s speeding Dodge Stratus from Route 12 to Route 63, where the vehicle spun around on an S-shaped curve and headed back toward Route 12. The chase hit speeds of more than 100 mph at two points along Route 12, Milano said.

Walpole police Officer Raymond Gosetti and an officer from Charlestown who heard about the chase on his radio helped Milano during the incident.

The pursuit went from Walpole to Langdon to Alstead to Surry before entering Keene, where city officers placed two spike mats into the path of the Stratus, puncturing three of the car’s tires.

After the Stratus hit the spikes it went off the road and stopped, but Davis refused to exit the vehicle, according to Walpole police Cpl. Justin R. Sanctuary.

Police used pepper spray on Davis, then he stepped out of the car and was arrested without further incident, Sanctuary said.

Once the Stratus was pulled over, police discovered that a woman in her 30s had been sitting in the car’s passenger seat during the chase. She was not injured during the incident and has not been charged with a crime. Police also found an open can of Budweiser beer in the car, Milano said.

Davis was also wanted on a bench warrant out of Claremont District Court, according to Milano.

A judge set Davis’ bail at $10,000 during Monday’s arraignment. He remained at the Cheshire County jail today.

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Cassidy NicosiaBy PHILLIP BANTZ

Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: August 24, 2009

A topless teenage girl with a handgun holstered on her hip was arrested Sunday afternoon near a busy intersection in downtown Keene.

Cassidy Nicosia, 18, was arrested on a charge of indecent exposure at about 1:30 p.m. near the Main-Marlboro-Winchester streets roundabout.

Nicosia was arrested after police answered multiple complaint calls about a topless girl walking through downtown Keene with a group of armed protesters affiliated with the Free State Project, Keene police Sgt. James A. Cemorelis said.

The Free State Project is an effort to convince 20,000 people to move to New Hampshire and participate in activism and run for local and state office.

Only 743 people have made the move and another 9,585 have committed to moving since a majority of project members voted on the Live Free or Die state as a home base nearly six years ago, according to the project’s Web site.

Nicosia lists Manchester as her current residence and Houston, Texas, as her hometown on the social networking Web site MySpace.

In an online video of Nicosia’s protest and arrest, she explains why she decided to go topless in public.

“I chose to do it because this is one of the most important issues to me is equality … men can walk down the street … and, you know, not get harassed at all but yet somehow this is dirty,” she says.

Shirtless men, some holding video cameras, are standing around Nicosia during the protest. Women who are wearing tops are also standing with her.

“She (Nicosia) was the only woman there who did not have her breasts covered,” Cemorelis said.

When the police arrive, the video shows Nicosia and others in her group arguing with them and requesting to be left alone.

“In an effort to be reasonable, we asked her many times to put her shirt on and be on her way,” Cemorelis said. “She absolutely refused to do so.”

Nicosia eventually agrees to put on a top, but only after she is arrested. She gives the gun she was carrying to another member of her group before the arrest. State law does not require residents to have permits to openly carry firearms.

While going through the booking process at the Keene Police Department, Nicosia refused to provide identification, Cemorelis said.

Other members of the Free State Project have also refused to identify themselves for police and government officials. One member, Samuel Miller, who also left Texas for the Granite State, spent nearly 60 days in jail because he would not provide his name to police or a judge.

Nicosia, though, decided to provide identification after speaking with police.

“We explained to her that the crime didn’t warrant her being held on bail,” Cemorelis said. “But if she didn’t provide us with identifying information, we’d more likely than not have to hold her until she could see the judge (Monday) morning.”

Nicosia was released with a summons to appear Sept. 9 at Keene District Court for arraignment.

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Peter Simon

Peter J. Simon

By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: August 22, 2009

The man accused of leading police on a high-speed chase Friday that involved gunshots being fired at his pickup and left a bus passenger critically injured was arraigned later the same day while wearing a hospital gown.

The top of his head marked with lacerations, Peter J. Simon, 39, learned in Keene District Court about the charges he faces so far: two counts of reckless conduct and one count each of resisting arrest and disobeying police.

Judge Edward J. Burke set Simon’s bail at $100,000 after hearing a rundown of his criminal history, which spans from Arizona to Montana and includes convictions for battery on police officers, fleeing police, assault and being a fugitive from justice, according to Keene police Lt. Peter S. Thomas.

Simon’s last known address is the Phoenix House Brattleboro Center. But Simon is no longer a resident of the substance abuse treatment center, according to Richard Turner, vice president of Phoenix Houses of New England.

Citing privacy laws, Turner declined to disclose details about Simon’s time at Phoenix House or where he went after he left.

Simon did not have an attorney during the arraignment and appeared disoriented in court. He asked if he could make a phone call and, later, if he could press charges against the N.H. State Police trooper who fired shots at the pickup he was driving during the chase.

“So because I didn’t stop you guys shot at me,” he said, “and then I ran into somebody else.”

Simon had just arrived at the arraignment from Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, where he was taken after the crash.

Medical staff cleared Simon to leave the hospital and attend the arraignment. He was taken to the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland after the hearing.

Police began chasing after a black Dodge Ram pickup Simon was driving after other drivers spotted him heading the wrong way on Route 12 and driving over curbs and medians, according to Cheshire County Attorney Peter W. Heed.

The pickup also rammed the back of a red car on Route 12, Thomas said. Police want to speak with the driver of that car as part of their criminal investigation against Simon.

The pickup eventually turned into the Monadnock Marketplace during the chase and began tearing around the parking lot of the nearby N.H. State Police Troop C barracks, police said. The pickup then headed into the shopping center and made a U-turn, according to witnesses.

Trooper Kelly Wardner stopped her cruiser near the middle of the road at the exit of the shopping center, stepped out of the vehicle and fired several shots at the driver’s side of the pickup as it passed her, according to court documents Burke read during Simon’s arraignment.

Some of the shots hit the pickup, which exited the shopping center, made a left turn toward the Winchester Street-Route 101 roundabout and then veered from the eastbound lane into the westbound lane, police said.

Michael Baker, a driver for Thomas Transportation, was driving a bus in the westbound lane when he saw the pickup coming toward him and tried to avoid a collision, according to the transportation company’s owner, Ed Thomas.

“It was my understanding that the pickup truck was intentionally trying to hit him,” Ed Thomas said.

Ed Heywood, who was recently hired by the transportation company, was sitting in the passenger seat of the bus, Ed Thomas said. He said Baker was driving Heywood to the Division of Motor Vehicles office, which is near the state police barracks, so Heywood could pick up his commercial driver’s license.

Baker and Heywood were the only people in the 33-passenger bus when the pickup collided with it head-on.

The front passenger side of the pickup smashed into the front passenger side of the bus, spraying debris from both vehicles over the road.

While Baker suffered minor injuries in the crash, Heywood was critically injured and had to be flown by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. His condition was not available.

Simon allegedly exited the pickup after the collision, attempted to carjack a passing vehicle — police also want to speak with this driver — and then ran across a field to a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant on Key Road.

Employees at the restaurant said a bloody Simon asked if someone would kill him and vaulted the counter before police arrived. They said Simon ripped the barbs from a trooper’s Taser out of his back and was Tasered again in the neck before he was arrested.

Wardner remained on active duty after the shooting — she pulled the trigger because she believed the pickup Simon was driving was going to injure or kill her or someone else, according to Heed.

Under state law, officers may use deadly force in defense of themselves or others who they believe are in danger of being seriously injured or killed. Officers may also use lethal force if they are trying to stop a person who is committing a felony that involves violence, a deadly weapon or poses a serious danger to others.

A passer-by during the shooting, Clay Bradley, 45, of Marlow, said he had to “hit the deck” because he thought one of the bullets from Wardner’s gun was going to strike him. He said Wardner fired three shots at the pickup.

Bradley also said he did not believe the pickup was going to hit Wardner or anyone else in the vicinity when Wardner opened fire.

The N.H. State Police Major Crimes Unit in Concord continues to investigate the shooting. Capt. Mark J. Myrdek, who is involved with the investigation, declined comment.

“We’re still trying to make sure we get all the facts together,” he said.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ

Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: July 31, 2009

WINCHESTER — Police in this town had their hands full Thursday night when they chased a convicted sex offender, scuffled with a horse owner and dealt with a drunken man firing a rifle.

The series of incidents kicked off at about 10 p.m., when police received simultaneous calls for a domestic disturbance and a high-speed police pursuit in Massachusetts heading toward Winchester, Police Chief Gary A. Phillips said.

After handling the domestic disturbance at 540 Warwick Road, Winchester police Officer Nathan Jette stopped his patrol car, blue lights activated, on the side of the road and waited for the white Ford Explorer that Bay State authorities were chasing.

Earlier in the night, police in Orange, Mass., had spotted the Explorer and recognized its driver, Joseph W. Finn, 47, of Gardner, Mass., who was wanted on warrants charging him with failing to register as a sex offender and driving with a suspended license.

When Jette saw the Explorer speeding down Warwick Road, he laid a spike strip in its path, puncturing all four of the SUV’s tires as it drove past him, Phillips said.

Jette stepped back into his cruiser and began chasing after the Explorer, which he found ditched near a horse field at 580 Warwick Road. The SUV had crashed into a fence, and the driver was gone, Phillips said.

As police searched for Finn in the field, the property owner, Daniel J. Black, 43, became concerned about his horses escaping through the damaged fence and began arguing with the officers, Phillips said.

“He kept trying to get at his fence and badgering the officers. There was quite a bit of chaos at the time,” he said. “The horses were not going to escape. It wasn’t an issue. We also didn’t want anyone getting into the field and contaminating the suspect’s tracks.”

The Keene Police Department’s police dog unit arrived and helped Winchester officers track down Finn, who was found hiding behind trees in a wood line near the field about a third of a mile from the ditched SUV, Phillips said.

While police were arresting Finn, Black began fighting with other officers near the damaged section of fence, Phillips said. He was taken to the ground and arrested on charges of interfering with law enforcement and resisting arrest.

The officers had just finished handcuffing Black when they heard gunshots coming from the residence at 540 Warwick Road, where they’d investigated a domestic disturbance less than an hour earlier, Phillips said.

They released Black to his son and rushed over to the residence where they’d heard the gunshots and found a “highly intoxicated” Timothy Merrifield, 46, and determined he was firing a rifle into the air, Phillips said.

Merrifield was taken into protective custody and driven to the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland to sober up. He was not charged with a crime.

Black, meanwhile, will be picked up after police secure warrants for his arrest on the charges of interfering and resisting, Phillips said.

“We just didn’t have enough manpower to arrest him at the time” of the incident, Phillips said.

Finn was charged in New Hampshire with disobeying police, driving with a suspended license, conduct after a crash and marijuana possession — a small bag of marijuana was found in the Explorer, Phillips said.

Finn was held overnight at the jail for lack of $2,500 bail and was scheduled to be arraigned today in Keene District Court.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ
Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: July 30, 2009

When Christina Chavez’s husband called and said a naked man had just attacked their van with a flashlight, she thought he was joking.

He wasn’t.

Michael Hagar, 38, of Swanzey allegedly used a large Maglite flashlight to smash the lights and windows of two vehicles parked behind the Hannaford grocery store Tuesday evening in Keene.

Hagar is also accused of chasing after bystanders and threatening to pummel them with the flashlight.

He was not wearing pants or underwear during the incident, police and witnesses said.

Later, at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, Hagar kicked and spat on a Keene police officer and threatened a hospital employee, police said.

He now faces charges of criminal mischief, criminal threatening, simple assault and theft.

The flashlight Hagar wielded during the incident was taken from Chavez’s van, police said.

Christina Chavez said her husband, Abraham, had driven the van to work the day of the incident.

“He called later and said the van just got attacked by a naked hobo,” she said. “I really thought he was playing a prank on me.”

Abraham Chavez said he heard Hagar yelling that the van belonged to him and that it was shooting paint balls at him while he was hitting it with the flashlight, according to Christina Chavez.

All of the van’s windows are gone or shattered and its interior and exterior are spattered with Hagar’s blood.

Hagar cut himself on broken glass during the incident and was also bleeding from the face, police said.

The Chavezes’ van has been deemed a biohazard because of the blood, and they cannot drive it until Hagar is tested for communicable diseases, Christina Chavez said.

“If he’s got hepatitis or something, we may have to claim it as a total loss,” she said. “We don’t have another vehicle, so we have to get a rental car.”

Meanwhile, police are still sorting out the details of the bizarre incident.

They believe Hagar, whose nose was broken, may have been involved in a fight at a homeless camp in the woods behind Hannaford known as “tent city,” prior to the vehicle attacks, Keene police Lt. Jay U. Duguay said.

The homeless camp has existed for decades, but its population has recently grown, Duguay said.

“We have locals out there who have fallen on hard times and others who came to the city to start a new life,” he said. “Ever since I’ve been here, for 20 years, people have been camping there, but it’s certainly larger now than it used to be.”

He said police cannot tell the homeless campers to leave the property because it’s privately owned and the owner hasn’t said they are trespassing. The owner of the land could not be confirmed this morning before press time.

“Hannaford has asked us to do more patrols back there, which we’ve done,” he said. “We’ve also been called out there for assaults, disturbances.”

A manager at Hannaford declined to comment on the situation, citing company policy.

Hagar was arraigned Wednesday at Keene District Court. He was being held at the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland for lack of $10,000 bail.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ

Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: July 29, 2009

A Swanzey man, naked from the waist down and bleeding from the face, vandalized two vehicles with a flashlight, kicked and spit on a Keene police officer and threatened a hospital employee Tuesday evening, authorities said.

Michael A. Hagar, 38, is charged with three counts of criminal threatening, two counts each of criminal mischief and simple assault and one count of theft.

Keene police were called to the West Street Shopping Center at about 10:20 p.m. for a report of a man using a large Maglite flashlight to smash out the windows and lights of two vehicles parked behind Hannaford grocery store, Keene police Lt. Jay U. Duguay said.

When one of the vehicle owners, Ada Boule, 20, of Keene saw the man, who was later identified as Hagar, damaging her vehicle she ran away to get help, Duguay said.

After speaking with Boule, Kevin Fisk, 28, of Keene and Dennis Laprade, 40, of Rindge confronted Hagar while he was still striking the vehicles with the flashlight, Duguay said.

He said Hagar then chased the men away while threatening them with the flashlight, which he’d stolen from one of the vehicles.

Boule and the other vehicle owner, Abraham Chavez, 26, of Sullivan, told police that Hagar was a stranger and they did not know why he was attacking their vehicles, Duguay said.

Hagar was not wearing pants or underwear during the incident — a long T-shirt was covering his genitals — and it was unclear what happened to his clothing, Duguay said.

Hagar’s nose was also broken, possibly during a fight prior to the incident behind Hannaford, though police are still investigating what led to his facial injuries, Duguay said.

Hagar cooperated with police during his arrest, but became combative at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, where he was taken to be treated for facial injuries and cuts caused by broken glass from the vehicles, Duguay said.

He spit on Keene police Officer Michael O’Donnell and kicked the officer in the face, and made death threats to hospital employee Clayton Stalker, 56, of Keene, Duguay said.

Police are awaiting the results of a drug test and psychological evaluation Hagar completed at the hospital.

After he was released from the hospital, Hagar was taken to the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland, where he was held without bail. He was scheduled to be arraigned today in Keene District Court.

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By PHILLIP BANTZ

Sentinel Staff

The Keene Sentinel: July 09, 2009

Strings of vehicle break-ins and vandalism and the occasional vicious beating or stabbing may lead some to believe that Keene’s streets are getting meaner, but crime statistics show little change over the last six years.

Even in light of rough economic times, which typically parallel a spike in shoplifting — people begin stealing groceries or other necessities they can no longer afford — the Elm City’s property crime rate remains stable.

The city’s social programs, such as The Community Kitchen, which provides food to area residents in need, play a significant role in curbing crime, Keene police Lt. Jay U. Duguay said.

“We’re behind the nation when it comes to economic issues. People are still losing their homes and jobs, but overall we haven’t felt the effects of it yet,” he said. “Right now it’s wait-and-see.”

During the last six years, Keene police have received an average of 490 reports dealing with larceny or theft. Last year they took 667 reports of larceny or theft, the highest number of those types of crimes since 2002, which saw 604 reports.

From the beginning of this year to the end of April, there were 202 reports of larceny and theft, slightly higher than the 147 during the same period last year, and 33 burglaries, which is on par with previous years.

“There’s going to be periods with a little influx, but for the most part it’s steady,” Duguay said. “I was actually kind of surprised at how consistent the numbers were.”

In 2004 and 2005, property crime rates dipped dramatically. While 2003 saw 557 larcenies and thefts, that number hit 272 the following year and then slightly increased to 286 the next year before rising to 455 in 2006.

“We didn’t change our patrol procedures during those times (2004 and 2005) and we weren’t up to full staff. So I don’t know why those years are lower,” Duguay said. “I think the more consistent number is the high number, but thank goodness for the lows.”

Violent crime reports in Keene have also remained steady over the last several years, with an average of 366 assaults annually.

Between 20 and 30 sex assaults are reported in the city each year, though only a small fraction of those cases result in arrests because the others lack sufficient evidence, Duguay said.

Statistics only tell part of the story, though. For the crime victims, the numbers hold little meaning.

Mitchell J. Farrell was staying in Keene on business June 25 when someone broke into his vehicle and stole his medications, GPS unit and two chargers. Farrell said he left the vehicle unlocked while he went for a walk at about 7:30 p.m., and it was ransacked when he returned.

“To have all of that stolen out of my car during the short time it was unlocked just shocked me, the boldness of it,” he said. “To be honest, it makes me think that Keene is no different from Boston or New York City or Chicago. I’ve been to all those cities and I’ve never had a problem.”

Farrell, who lives in Lake View, N.Y., about 17 miles south of Buffalo, said he was left a little shaken after his experience in Keene.

“I don’t even have a lock and key for my door at home. I haven’t been a victim of a crime since the late ’70s when my bicycle was stolen,” he said. “They went through all the compartments in my car. I was pretty angry, but what are you going to do? It’s just a strange feeling.”

For each of Keene’s 46 police officers, there are about 496 full-time residents and 114 Keene State College students.

“The calls for service have continuously gone up, but we’ve basically had the same number of officers for years. The officers are always busy,” Duguay said. “But no matter how we do our patrols, if people would just lock their doors and protect their property the number of crimes of opportunity we have would go way down.”

At least 10 unlocked vehicles in Keene were broken into over the weekend, and many similar crimes have been committed this year and in previous years. Thieves are simply trying door handles and making off with expensive cell phones, GPS units, cash, clothing and other personal belongings.

Walking along Main Street on Wednesday afternoon, Kim Mooney said she wasn’t threatened by property crime in Keene. She recently moved to Keene from a more rural community in upstate New York.

“This is a big city to me, and I feel very safe here,” she said. “You don’t see the violent crimes, only petty property crimes.”

Another resident, Tyson Bailey, also said he felt that the criminal element in the city was insignificant.

“I’ve lived in Keene for four years,” he said. “I’ve never had any issues.”

State Rep. Steven W. Lindsey, who was robbed while working as a taxi driver two years ago, said he believes crime is on the decline in Keene, though he’s not sure why.

“I live on Marlboro Street in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city and things just seem to be mellower,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s something in the water or what.”

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