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MOONEY 

Concord lawyer asks judge to throw out prostitution, hindering charges


BRENTWOOD - A Concord lawyer charged with hiring a prostitute and later tipping her off that she was under police surveillance is arguing that police did not have enough evidence to pull him over after he was seen leaving a hotel room.

Richard Mooney, 53, of Bow has asked a judge to dismiss misdemeanor charges of prostitution and hindering apprehension before his April 1 trial in Rockingham County Superior Court. Mooney appealed his case from 10th Circuit Court in Salem last March, so it could be heard by a jury.

If a judge decides that Salem police did not have enough legal justification to stop Mooney's car, then the charges may have to be dropped. Defense attorney Howard Roever is asking Judge Marguerite Wageling to dismiss the case without a hearing. Prosecutors have yet to respond to Mooney's claim.

Mooney was charged by Salem police after an investigation on June 13, 2011. Police began surveillance at two local hotels after receiving a tip that a woman named "Ashley" began advertising her services on the website backpage.com, according to court documents.

A detective spotted Mooney's vehicle pull into a parking spot in front of the hotel, enter a room and leave a short time later.

"The fact that a middle-aged male entered and left Room 145 could not form the necessary basis to later initiate a traffic stop under the circumstances," Roever said in a court motion.

One hotel manager told police that she suspected there was "illegal activity" happening in three of the rooms rented by a man. But the detective watching Mooney, "saw no other activities in any of the room(s) that would confirm the information supplied by the motel manager that there was 'heavy traffic' in the rooms rented .indicating criminal activity," according to Roever.

Police said that Mooney refused to speak with them after being pulled over in his car and identified by officers. But the prostitute, police said, told detectives that Mooney called her moments after his encounter with police officers to warn her that she was being watched by law enforcement.

The woman was given limited immunity in exchange for her sworn testimony, according to prosecutors. She was not charged in the case. Her testimony cannot be used against her so long as she testifies truthfully during the trial, court records say.

Mooney is facing two Class A misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.

No hearing date has been set on Mooney's argument about the evidence.

jkimble@newstote.com

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