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January 03. 2013 10:26PM

Marlborough officials to testify in contempt case

MARLBOROUGH - A contempt of court case for alleged right-to-know violations against the Marlborough Board of Selectmen continues in Cheshire County Superior Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Selectmen John Northcott, Gina Paight and Beverly Harris as well as the administrative assistant to the selectmen, Sandy LaPlante, are slated to take the stand in their defense. Northcott said Thursday he could not comment on the allegations laid out in court during a December hearing by resident Loretta Simonds, but would be answering to her charges on the stand Wednesday.

"We will answer each of the so-called charges," he said.

In court Dec. 7, Simonds presented judge Phillip P. Mangones with video and audio evidence to show the alleged disparity between what she said takes place at select board meetings and what is reported in meeting minutes. Simonds said her evidence also showed how board decisions had been made outside of normally posted meetings, she said.

In one instance, the board refused to speak to two petition warrant articles at a meeting before the March town meeting, then at the town meeting Northcott announced the board did not recommend either petition article, she said. Simonds said she attended all meetings leading up to the town meeting and the issues were not discussed. Neither is the decision to not recommend the articles mentioned in any of the meeting minutes leading up to the town meeting, she said.

"There's no question Northcott lied on that stage and said they had a meeting when they didn't have a meeting," Simonds said Thursday.

Simonds is alleging the board has violated the year-old decision that found the board in violation of the right-to-know law. Simonds brought the original case against the board last year and won. In January 2012, Mangones found the board guilty of numerous right-to-know violations and enjoined the board against further violations.

In June, Simonds filed another case alleging the board was in contempt of court by continuing to commit violations against the right-to-know law. In court last month, the town's attorney, Matthew Serge, said Simonds, who lost her 2012 run to be on the select board, wants "the select board out of the way."

Simonds denied she is out to get the board personally and said Thursday she expects the defense to take the same tack on Wednesday.

"He was right after me and my reputation," she said of Serge. "I expect more of the same."

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Meghan Pierce may be reached at mpierce@newstote.com.

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