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Inmate said to have impersonated public defender in phone call

Union Leader Correspondent

December 19. 2012 11:11PM
John Bouraphael, 33, now serving a state prison sentence on drug and weapons charges, is expected to be indicted for identity fraud for impersonating a lawyer in June while being held at the Rockingham County jail. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO)

BRENTWOOD - A Danville man jailed on drug charges allegedly impersonated a public defender over the phone so he could speak with another inmate being held at the Merrimack County jail, records say.

John Bouraphael, 33, called Jacob Palo to talk about their enterprise of strong-arming fellow inmates out of their canteen goods, Assistant County Attorney Michael Zaino said in court papers.

Bouraphael is now expected to be indicted for felony identity fraud for impersonating Palo's public defender, Anthony Naro. Bouraphael could face a 7- to 15-year prison term if he is convicted.

The investigation by the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department concluded that Bouraphael tricked two Merrimack County correctional officers by obtaining Naro's New Hampshire Bar Association number, according to a summary of the investigation.

Bouraphael arranged the call between two jails on June 1 through a three-way call, claiming he was Naro by using his ID number, records show. Naro would not comment on the case.

Lawyers are sometimes asked for their state bar number, or a security pin number by corrections officers before being allowed to speak with a client over the phone, investigators said. Such identification numbers are regularly listed by defense lawyers and prosecutors alike on court motions, which are made available to defendants. Rockingham County corrections Lt. David Consentino learned about Bouraphael's ruse on June 19 while reviewing recorded outgoing calls placed by inmates. Palo, 36, of Concord was being held as a pretrial detainee at the Merrimack County jail because local corrections officials decided he had to be separated from Bouraphael, according to Zaino.

Palo is awaiting trial on a litany of charges stemming from a Deerfield home invasion and cross-county police chase. He faces no new charges as a result of the sheriff's department investigation. Naro and his boss, Deanna Campbell, met with sheriff's investigators on July 2 and listened to Bouraphael's phone call to Palo, a report says.

During the investigation, Zaino and sheriff's investigators went to the Merrimack County jail and questioned the two corrections officers who fielded Bouraphael's phone call.

Both corrections officers said they had no inkling that anything was amiss. One of the officers told investigators that "at the time of the call, he was under the impression that he was speaking with defense attorney Anthony Naro," Deputy Chris Stone said in a report. Bouraphael began serving a 15-month-to-four-year state prison sentence on Aug. 15 after pleading guilty to one count of sale of a controlled drug and five counts of being a felon in possession of a weapon for keeping several firearms.

The sheriff's Drug Task Force arrested Bouraphael last Dec. 21 at his home after an investigation into his alleged marijuana business. Bouraphael is now contesting a federal court action to seize roughly $415,000 in cash, and an assortment of jewelry, gold ingots and 22K gold coins that prosecutors say were profits from his drug business.

Bouraphael's criminal record over the last 10 years includes convictions for theft, assault, distributing drugs, unsworn falsification and receiving stolen property, according to court records. His latest case came to light because the state Department of Corrections notified county prosecutors on Dec. 10 that Bouraphael was deemed a good candidate for work release, which would place him in a halfway house.

Zaino asked a judge to reject Bouraphael's bid for early release from state prison, saying he is a danger to the public.

"He has criminal convictions spanning over 10 years," Zaino said in a court objection. "He violated the rules of his pre-trial release.

"He committed new crimes while held pre-trial and harassed and strong-armed other inmates in the process."

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James A. Kimble may be reached at

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