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Burnt food brings lawyer into eviction dispute

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 26. 2012 12:07AM

MANCHESTER - A prominent Manchester lawyer has taken on the case of Gerald Pilotte, a poor, elderly veteran who is being forced out of public housing because he has burned too many of his meals.

David Nixon said a lawyer in his firm, Kirk Simoneau, has met with Pilotte once, and Nixon is trying to arrange for Pilotte to move to the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton.

'Something needs to be done. I guess I'm the point man for getting it done,' Nixon said Thursday.

Three weeks ago, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported that Pilotte was getting kicked out of his apartment at 14 Falls Ave. He had received an eviction notice, citing frequent Fire Department calls to his apartment over burnt meals or improper disposal of smoking materials.

Pilotte is 78 years old and said he's a military veteran once stationed in Berlin, Germany. He has lived in his apartment since the 1980s, and said he cannot afford another place.

But neighbors have complained about the night-time fire alarms and felt fear that Pilotte may catch the complex on fire. One neighbor has said he believes Pilotte suffers from dementia. He does have hearing loss but does not have a working hearing aid.

Nixon said he has spoken to Barry Conway, the commandant of the Veterans Home. Conway is aware of Pilotte's situation and is preparing paperwork for Nixon, the lawyer said.

Nixon said he's also spoken to officials at the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority. They are not rushing anything, but they want the situation addressed, Nixon said.

Meanwhile, two of Pilotte's advocates have been sidelined. John Brady and Melanie Ross, a couple who have contacted the media and lawyers on Pilotte's behalf, were unable to bring Pilotte to Nixon's office Thursday.

Ross said her husband is in the hospital, and she cannot leave him.

'When John gets out of the hospital, we will ride up to (the Veterans Home in) Tilton (with Pilotte) to check it out,' Ross said. In the meantime, Liberty House, a shelter for homeless veterans, has offered to provide items such at toiletries or clothes.

She said Pilotte needs a hearing aid, and it is on order. She said Pilotte has lost his military paperwork, and the Veterans Home is working to get a copy.

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