Police upgrade theft charge in case involving Epping store clerk's deathBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
January 23. 2014 11:43AM
BRENTWOOD — Police have upgraded a theft charge that could now bring jail time for an accused thief charged with stealing cigarettes from an Epping store clerk who collapsed and died a short time later.
At his arraignment Thursday, Epping police prosecutor Heather Newell amended the charge against Jeffrey Seymore from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor.
The change approved by Brentwood Circuit Court Judge David LeFrancois means Seymore could spend up to a year in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,000 if convicted.
Under a Class B misdemeanor, Seymore would have faced only a $1,000 fine with $500 of that suspended, Newell said.
“After reviewing the facts and circumstances behind the case, I chose to upgrade the charge to a Class A misdemeanor and filed a notice of intent to seek Class A misdemeanor penalties. I thought it was warranted based on the facts and the circumstances and the consequences surrounding the theft,” Newell said, referring specifically to the death of Cumberland Farms store clerk Norman Blais and other similar cigarette thefts Seymore allegedly carried out before his arrest.
Epping Police Chief Michael Wallace has said police will explore the possibility of bringing more serious charges once the final results of Blais’ autopsy are available.
Seymore, 27, of Manchester, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and remains free on $500 personal recognizance bail.
Londonderry police arrested Seymore on Jan. 10 on a theft charge alleging he stole two cartons of cigarettes from the Global gas station on Hampton Drive on Dec. 18.
Londonderry Detective Chris Olson said a clerk attempted to run after Seymore but tripped. A store manager then chased Seymore along Route 102, where Seymore got away after he was picked up by a man in a car, Olson said.
Seymore was arrested shortly after allegedly stealing four cartons of Marlboro cigarettes valued at $255 from the Cumberland Farms on Route 125 in Epping just after 10 p.m. on Dec. 24. He is accused of grabbing them from the store counter and running out of the store.
The 67-year-old Blais gave police a description of the suspect later identified as Seymore, but two hours later he collapsed inside the store.
His wife, Denise Blais, has maintained that the stress of the theft contributed to his death, which she blames on a sudden heart attack. An autopsy confirming the cause of death has not been finalized.
Seymore was silent when he left the courthouse after Thursday’s arraignment, refusing to respond to a reporter’s questions about the theft and Blais’ death.
On Thursday, authorities also announced additional charges against Seymore for cigarette thefts from other stores.
According to Epping police, Seymore is now facing charges for stealing two cartons of cigarettes from the Xtra Mart on Route 125 in Epping on Dec. 22. After that theft, Seymore allegedly drove to Raymond and targeted the Shell service station on Freetown Road.
Raymond police Lt. Mike Labell said Seymore asked for two cartons of cigarettes. The clerk placed them on the counter, but when she turned to answer the phone he allegedly grabbed them and ran out of the store, Labell said.
Seymore was identified as a suspect in the Raymond theft on Dec. 26 after he was arrested in the theft at the Epping Cumberland Farms.