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'Duck' lawyer blasts AG over priorities

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 25. 2014 9:05PM

The attorney for Nashua state Rep. David Campbell, who ran over and killed five ducks last December, questioned why the state Attorney General's Office spent so much time and energy on this case while 115 murders in New Hampshire remain unsolved.

"This report regarding my client, consumed over a hundred hours of the state's limited investigative resources and thousands of taxpayers' dollars and calls into question the priorities of the Attorney General's Office," Nashua attorney Gerald Prunier said in a statement.

Prunier said the AG's investigation "turned into an exhaustive and unproductive fishing expedition into Mr. Campbell's personal life."

The Attorney General's Office on Thursday released a 14-page report saying Campbell and former Nashua police commissioner Thomas Pappas would face no new charges after Campbell ran over and killed five ducks on Dec. 23 while driving away from the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua and later sought the help of his friend, Pappas, then a police commissioner.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young, who oversaw the investigaion, said the probe was important to determine "whether a sitting police commissioner who was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the (Executive) Council committed a crime involving their office."

She said Campbell is to blame for making the investigation take longer.

"What I would note is there was certainly a number of hours devoted to this investigation because Mr. Campbell decided not to cooperate with this investigation and that failure led us to take other investigative avenues that could have been shortened if he, like everybody else, had cooperated," Young said.

Prunier said Campbell's chief accuser, James Murphy, an out-of-state Southwest pilot staying at the hotel, "continually yelled, harassed and followed my client."

Prunier said Murphy allegedly said, "I am going to make you hurt like the ducks."

The AG's report said Campbell told a police officer that "Murphy threatened to make Campbell feel how the ducks felt."

But the report said no witness at the scene heard Murphy make that statement to Campbell.

Campbell this week announced he would not seek reelection to the House after serving 14 years. Pappas also resigned from the Nashua Police Commission in February, citing deep regret over his role in the incident.

Campbell, who said he had two drinks and dinner at the hotel, called Pappas to pick him up after killing the ducks, and Pappas later called the Nashua police and arranged for Campbell to come in the next day, rather than that night.

Prunier said his client was not impaired by alcohol, "but that he was very upset about running over the ducks and concerned for his safety that evening."

Campbell pleaded no contest to illegal taking of waterfowl and paid a $620 fine and $75 in restitution to the state Fish and Game Department. He also donated an additional $695 to New Hampshire Audubon.

The Attorney General's Office considered a charge of reckless operation against Campbell and official oppression or hindering apprehension against Pappas. Neither was charged with those crimes.

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