HOOKSETT — Lawyers for the town’s police commission and embattled former Police Chief Stephen Agrafiotis have until Aug. 3 to file post-trial memoranda summarizing their arguments as to the validity of his March 2011 suspension.
Agrafiotis, who resigned as chief in January after a four-month administrative leave, was suspended for three days in March of last year after what the police commission determined to be a violation of the state’s municipal budget law.
Agrafiotis filed an appeal with the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord the next month, asking for the suspension to be overturned and removed from his personnel record, as well as the repayment of lost wages and benefits.
Court records show that a bench trial before Judge Richard B. McNamara took place on July 3, after being rescheduled from May 29 to allow the police commission more time for its depositions.
As revealed in the records, Agrafiotis was suspended on March 21, 2011, for authorizing the payment of three $10,000 retainers for future legal services to Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green, the law firm used by the commission at that time.
Police commissioners said the money used to pay the retainers lapsed in June at the end of the 2008 fiscal year, so the payments were made without proper authorization.
The witness list submitted by Agrafiotis attorney Andru H. Volinsky included the current members of the police commission, former commission chairman David Gagnon, former commissioner Henry Roy, and Elizabeth Bailey, an attorney with Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green.
According to court files, Sheheen, Phinney, Bass and Green sent the commission two checks totaling $7,366.55 in unspent retainer funds in October 2010. A letter from Bailey explained the return of the money at that time.
Witnesses for the police commission, according to the list submitted by attorney Daniel J. Mullen, included Agrafiotis, Roy, police commission chairman Joanne McHugh and police commissioner Clark Karolian.
Documents filed on behalf of the commission state that although Agrafiotis had been authorized by then-chairman Gagnon to pay the retainers, that was not sufficient justification for what the commission said was a violation of the state municipal budget law. The commission’s argument is that, in paying the retainers, Argafiotis was expending public funds without proper appropriation.
Argafiotis’ stance, according to the court records, is that there was no specification that the retainers be used in the 2009 fiscal year rather than in the 2008 fiscal year, and that by the time the 2008 fiscal year ended, the funds were already committed.
Hooksett has not yet appointed a permanent replacement for Agrafiotis.
Capt. Jon Daigle currently serves as acting chief.