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Mascoma Valley Regional prank leads to teen's arrest

CANAAN - Police arrested a 17-year-old man on charges he called Mascoma Valley Regional High School with a prank threat, but police are withholding the teen's name until January, likely in violation of state open records laws.

Police Chief Samuel Frank said in a release the 17-year-old telephoned the school saying he had taken office staff hostage and was holding a gun to their heads. A school resource officer "found that there was in fact no threat to anyone and after a thorough investigation a suspect was identified and admitted to placing the phone call. It was determined that the call was a hoax and at no time did the student have a weapon or take anyone hostage."

Frank said the man - state law defines a minor as anyone "under the age of 17" - was charged with false public alarms and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 14 in Lebanon Circuit Court.

However, Frank said in the release that "his name and information are being withheld until the arraignment."

Frank did not provide a reason for withholding the information in the release and did not respond to a phone call and email requesting the man's name.

Greg Sullivan, an attorney for the New Hampshire Union Leader, said it is doubtful that police have any cause to withhold the man's name.

"Absent extraordinary circumstances, secret arrests are simply wrong," Sullivan said. "They undermine the public's right to know what their government is up to."

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