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Judge dismisses suit against Nashua, former police chief

Union Leader Correspondent

January 31. 2016 8:44PM

NASHUA — A Superior Court judge has dismissed all of the claims brought forward in a civil lawsuit against the city, which alleged that Nashua’s former deputy police chief was wrongfully terminated.

Scott Howe, a former deputy police chief with the Nashua Police Department, previously filed the legal action against former Police Chief John Seusing and the city, arguing that he was forced to retire from the force more than two years ago.

Judge Larry Smukler at Hillsborough County Superior Court recently dismissed all of Howe’s claims, and the upcoming civil trial scheduled for Feb. 1 has been canceled, according to court documents.

“We are very pleased with the result, and believe the judge got it right,” Attorney Donald Smith, legal counsel for Seusing and the city, said. Howe’s attorney, Joe Levasseur, filed a motion to reconsider; however, the judge denied his request on Jan. 19. Howe has 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision.

Howe, of Goffstown, was on paid administrative leave for about three months when he retired on Oct. 1, 2013, in the midst of an audit of the Nashua Police Relief Association being conducted by the Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.

Although the Nashua Police Relief Association was paying Howe to clean a building it owns on Kinsley Street, the Attorney General’s Office eventually determined that there was no evidence of illegal conduct by Howe.

In newly filed court documents, it was revealed that Howe was paid $4,480 in payments from NPRA between between May 2009 and December 2012, with the majority of those payments being made in the form of gift cards.

Howe told Seusing “he had requested gift card payments because his ex-wife gets enough of his money and he was concerned she would go after it,” said Smukler’s ruling. “Seusing told (Howe) that the issues surrounding the NPRA were causing morale problems within the department, and project a poor image to the public.”

According to court records, Seusing told Howe that he thought it would be a good idea for him to retire, and that if he did not, the chief intended to recommend to the Nashua Police Commission that Howe be terminated.

Howe contends that Seusing informed him that the police commission would support Howe’s termination. Seusing denies that claim.

“Clearly, indiscretion and lies, including a failure to report income, are not encouraged by public policy,” ruled Smukler. “As such, the termination of an employee for such conduct does not violate public policy.”

The judge went on to conclude that Howe could have chosen to timely pursue a termination hearing under statutory remedy, however he opted not to take that action.

Howe’s attorney claims in court records that Seusing violated Howe’s statutory rights not to be forced to resign without just cause, and that the city of Nashua and the police chief were in a superior position with its ultimatum to either retire or be fired, specifically because Howe would have lost more than $50,000 in accrued sick and vacation time if he was publicly fired.

In the motion for reconsideration, Levasseur argued that Howe did not receive due process prior to his forced retirement.

Courts Nashua

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