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AG clears Nashua chief of credibility issue in murder testimony

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 22. 2013 4:15PM

The Attorney General's Office on Thursday said a complaint against Nashua Police Chief John Seusing alleging he had a credibility issue that could have impacted his testimony in a 1993 murder case was unfounded, but found Seusing had lied to superiors about a case in the 1980s though he corrected that lie on his own.

Seusing was a key investigator in the case against Michael Monroe, who was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing death his mother-in-law Theresa Levesque, 66, in her Nashua home on March 6, 1993.

Anthony Pivero, a former Nashua police officer, complained to the attorney general in March claiming Seusing had been disciplined for a dishonesty issue in an unrelated arrest in 1984 or 1985 that later led to a lawsuit, and that should have been disclosed to the defense before the Monroe murder trial.

"The investigation established that Chief Seusing was untruthful to a superior more than 25 years ago and, he, of his own volition, corrected his error and received his punishment," which was a 15-day suspension, Attorney General Joseph Foster said in a news release issued Thursday.

Seusing said: "Twenty-seven years ago I was a young officer with a few years on the job and I made a terrible mistake, one that I certainly regret to this day.

"I can't change that, but I owned up to it on my own. I was disciplined for it, and the discipline was well-deserved."

Seusing said it was unfortunate that the situation was brought up nearly three decades after the fact, but he understands that individuals in his position are held to a higher standard.

"A lot of time people make mistakes and they don't put a lot of thought into it. You take your punishment and you move on, and that is what I have done," said Seusing, adding the personnel matter was dealt with 27 years ago. "And everybody knew about it at the time."

Seusing admits it was a terrible mistake, but said he learned from the error and put it behind him a long time ago.

Police departments must tell prosecutors if a police officer has information in his or her personnel file that could impact a jury's assessment of the officer's credibility as a witness, the release said. Prosecutors then have a constitutional obligation to disclose such information called "Laurie" issues to the defense.

Pivero had alleged that Seusing fabricated a police report when he was a patrol officer in a 1984 or 1985 case, the release said.

"The review however established that while Seusing failed to tell the truth to his superiors when a complaint arose from his arrest, he later corrected his mistake of his own volition," the release said.

In his March complaint, Pivero questioned whether it was disclosed in the Monroe murder, in which Seusing testified.

"Upon review by this office, Pivero's allegations proved largely incorrect. Seusing did not author a false report and did not provide false testimony," the release said.

Seusing lied to superiors when asked if he had made an arrest and he said no, but later corrected himself, the release said.

The matter was fully vetted by the superior court during pretrial hearings in the Monroe trial in 1995, the release said. The state successfully argued then the incident "presents precious little, if any, probative value, which is substantially outweighed by its potential to mislead or confuse the jury, while prejudicing the state." The judge ultimately denied the defense motion to submit the evidence in Seusing's confidential personnel file.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young said the investigation revealed three other cases in which the defense should be told about Seusing's discipline. The release said Seusing and the Nashua police department fully cooperated.

The release said: "In order to satisfy our legal and ethical obligations, this office will continue to apprise defendants of this incident involving Chief Seusing, and we will continue to vigorously argue, as this office successfully did in 1995, that this incident is not proper impeachment evidence."

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