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Manchester man convicted of threatening to kill Derry judge over child custody ruling

Union Leader Correspondent

November 05. 2013 9:30PM
Gregory Gifford 

BRENTWOOD — A jury convicted a Manchester man Tuesday of threatening to kill a Derry family court judge in retaliation for ruling against him in a child custody case.

Gregory Gifford, 48, was convicted of three counts of threats to a government official for sending threatening e-mails to Derry police promising to kill Judge Paul Moore. One e-mail said that "Judge Moore is a dead man for kidnapping my son without due process."

Moore is well known for co-founding MooreMart, a nonprofit that has mailed more than 50,000 care packages to American soldiers.

The threatening e-mails were sent Oct. 25, 2012, and were followed up with similar messages to Gov. John Lynch's Office of Citizen Services, including one that read, "I am going to start killing people. Ask Judge Moore how many people have to die before I get my due process."

Gifford was charged with sending the threatening e-mails to police and making a threatening call to the Derry courthouse where Moore worked as a family court judge. He began his tirade last June 22, shortly after Moore's decision to give guardianship of Gifford's young son to another family member.

"His threats showed he wanted to be treated differently than everyone else," Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said. "That's not how the system works."

Gifford called the 10th Circuit Court in Derry, and told clerk Brenda Santos, "Put Paul Moore on the (expletive) phone. I will kill Paul Moore. He is a dead (expletive)," according to Agati.

Gifford sent e-mails to Derry police Capts. George Feole and Vern Thomas using an alias that was a play on his mother's maiden name, Agati told jurors in Rockingham County Superior Court. Agati argued during closing arguments Tuesday that Gifford left a virtual trail of records that identified him as the person threatening Moore.

A cell phone registered under Gifford's name was used to make the threatening call to the Derry courthouse, Agati told jurors. The phone pinged off a tower in Lower Manhattan near a shelter where Gifford was registered as a resident for several months.

Derry police subpoenaed records from Google to link a Gmail address for a "Greg Alioto", an alias that was a play on the maiden name of Gifford's mother. Gifford used that same e-mail address, phone number, and listed his mother's address in Derry in his complaints to the governor's office, according to Agati.

Gifford, who represented himself at trial, told jurors during his closing arguments that the state failed to put the cell phone in his hands, or tie him directly to the threats against Moore.

"They haven't proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt," Gifford said. "There is some damaging evidence ... but no evidence I actually had a phone."

Moore sat through the closing arguments and remained to hear the verdict handed down Tuesday.

Judge Kenneth McHugh ordered that Gifford remain held at the Rockingham County jail while he awaits sentencing. Gifford faces up to 7 ½ to 15 years in prison on each of the charges.

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