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November 02. 2012 10:26PM

Hooksett ex-DPW director guilty of stealing from town


DALE HEMEON 

CONCORD - The former director of Hooksett's Department of Public Works was convicted by a Merrimack County Superior Court jury on 11 of 12 charges related to theft of town-owned property.

Dale Hemeon, 57, of Hooksett, had worked for the town for 21 years and made $78,600 in 2010. He was fired in April 2011. He was well-known in town.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney Wayne P. Coull said the jury acquitted Hemeon of one theft charge, involving a landscaping trailer.

Although Hemeon was indicted on 12 felony charges, four of the charges were reduced to misdemeanors by the court, presumably due to the low dollar value.

Hemeon was accused of having a DPW mechanic between April 10, 2009, and Aug. 26, 2010, take several town trucks and a crane to a scrapyard in Manchester and splitting the proceeds.

The other charges involved taking chainsaws, a push mower, hedge trimmer, weed trimmer, a leaf blower, two generators, a tractor, a shelter, an aerator, plow, mower, silt seeder and a trailer, all on March 23, 2011. Hemeon was found not guilty of the trailer theft.

Coull said Hemeon was convicted of conspiracy and all but one theft charge.

"The bottom line is he was convicted," said Coull, of 11 of the 12 charges.

Hooksett's Town Administrator, Dean Shankle, took his post in September 2011, months after Hemeon was fired.

"My understanding is that there was town equipment that ended up being taken as evidence. It'd be nice to get that back, but I don't know if the trial being over is going to do that or not," said Shankle. "To my knowledge, that's the only way it'd affect the town directly (at this time)."

For those who had been present through it, however, the conviction provided an end to what had been an embarrassing ordeal for the town.

"This has been a very difficult situation for the entire community," said Hooksett Town Councilor Leslie Boswak. "I am relieved to hear that this chapter in Hooksett's history is coming to a close. The town has been working to place additional controls in effect to prevent anything like this from occurring again."

Town Councilor Todd Lizotte would not comment on the conviction. In a Town Council meeting earlier in the month, Lizotte held Hemeon's case as a cause for self-reflection on the part of the town and the council.

"Where were the safeguards?" he said at the time. "What have we done to change the culture so that never happens again?"

A pre-sentence investigation, a kind of background check for extenuating circumstances or past criminality to aid in sentencing, was ordered on Hemeon. According to Coull, that usually means the sentencing date will be in about 45 days.

Union Leader Correspondent Brendan Clogston contributed to this story.


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