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October 30. 2013 10:56PM

Nashua mayor's words called 'harsh' in wake of 'smear campaign' talk

NASHUA — "It is a really serious situation I am in," Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the New Hampshire Union Leader Wednesday, the day after she made claims that she and her husband are the target of a smear campaign by the Nashua Police Department.

Thomas Pappas, chairman of the Nashua Police Commission, called the mayor's words "harsh," referring to her allegation that police trust was abused for personal or political gain.

"I find it disappointing," Pappas said, contending no one within the department is engaged in a smear campaign against the mayor or any public official. Although Pappas said he has some personal thoughts on why the mayor would make those accusations against the police department, he refused to elaborate.

Lozeau said the police department began investigating her husband, David, in 2009 based on a complaint from one individual who was facing criminal charges. Her husband previously sued the individual, whose name she refused to give.

According to the mayor, the unidentified person accused her husband, in his role as a bail commissioner in Nashua, of bid rigging, drug use and misconduct.

Although that investigation included numerous wiretaps and ultimately determined that no crimes were committed by David Lozeau, the mayor said the closed case "came back to life" around the time she publicly criticized Nashua police unions for failing to negotiate new contracts that included health care concessions.

"It also became clear that the police were attempting to investigate me as well," Lozeau said, maintaining she has not engaged in any type of criminal activity.

Lozeau believes at least one person in the police department attempted to start a "smear campaign based on an unfounded investigation to achieve political goals."

Police Chief John Seusing denied the allegations this week that any investigation would be politically motivated, stressing that the department only conducts investigations for legitimate reasons.

On Wednesday, Lozeau said she has not hired a personal attorney in connection with the matter. However her husband, David, previously hired attorney Rick Lehmann of Douglas, Leonard and Garvey.

"I represent David. The mayor does not need a lawyer," Lehmann wrote in an email to the New Hampshire Union Leader. "David is completely innocent, was never charged and never will be charged. If the police did not conclude he was innocent, they would have used that to avoid disclosing information about an ongoing investigation. They did not."

David Lozeau, the mayor's husband of 25 years, resigned as a bail commissioner earlier this year. At the time, a court spokesperson refused to comment on his departure, citing it as a personnel matter.

Lozeau said she was unaware of the police investigation involving her husband until after her State of the City address earlier this year. She learned that 11 separate attempts to wiretap her husband were made by police in December 2009 and January 2010. (See related story, Page A2).Despite these attempts, she said that "at no point did my husband implicate himself in any criminal wrongdoing of any kind."

The mayor said she is willing to discuss the investigation of herself and her husband in a more public manner once she has thoroughly reviewed the facts.

"I have to count on the fact that people in our community know me. I have been a public servant for 20 years now," she said. "If I tell you something, it is the facts. I have always been straightforward."

She acknowledged public disagreements between the mayor's office and the city's police department, especially related to union negotiations and health care concessions by police employees.

"Any investigation that the Nashua Police Department did concerning her husband or anybody else would be done for justifiable reasons," Chief Seusing said this week. "To make any connection between disagreements between the mayor's office and the police department is absolutely false."

Pappas agreed, saying he is hopeful that Lozeau and police officials can resolve this issue, move forward and work together to better serve the citizens of Nashua.

khoughton@newstote.com


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