Nelson eavesdropping case referred to Merrimack County
KEENE — Cheshire County Attorney Chris McLaughlin has asked the state Attorney General’s office to hand the Nelson town office eavesdropping case over to the Merrimack County Attorney’s office.
McLaughlin made the request on Tuesday, he said.
New Hampshire State Police recently concluded their investigation into the eavesdropping and wiretapping allegations and handed the case over the Cheshire County Attorney’s office.
“I reviewed the case and as a result I am now handing it over the Merrimack County Attorney’s office because there is a potential conflict of interest,” McLaughlin said Tuesday.
The file has been reviewed, but whether charges will be filed is being referred to the Merrimack County Attorney’s office, pending approval from the Attorney General’s office, McLaughlin said, “I will not be making that decision.”
According to documents filed in the 8th Circuit Court District Division in Keene, the state police investigation was triggered when several residents reported audio and visual equipment were being used in the main entry way and just outside the front doors of the town hall on Nelson Common Road.
The residents include Hinsdale Police Chief Todd Faulkner and members of the Nelson Fire Department, Jason Walters and Winston “Bud” French, as well as Nelson elementary school teacher Maureen Lord.
In the recently unsealed supporting affidavit requesting the search warrant, state police Troop C Sgt. Shawn M. Skahan wrote, that on March 13, “I received an e-mail from T. Faulkner outlining his concerns that the town of Nelson has been illegally recording conversations within the town hall building.”
Residents reported comments they made outside of the town hall somehow got back to select board members.
French reported hearing voices of people standing and talking in the front entry way of the town hall coming from the Town Administrative Executive Assistant’s computer speakers.
Skahan wrote that he went to the town offices on March 20 and confirmed the existence of a camera on the outside of the building angled toward the front door and another one on the inside of the building, just above the front door.
“We also confirmed that there are no signs or notices posted on the outside of the building advising the public that the building was being monitored by audio or video,” he wrote.
Skahan concluded that based upon the evidence there is probable cause for the crimes of wiretapping and eavesdropping.