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January 10. 2013 8:21PM

Ex-Salem official faces sentencing


PATRICK MCDOUGALL 

SALEM - Patrick McDougall resigned from his seats on the budget committee and zoning board of adjustment just days before his sentencing in district court for obstructing government administration.

McDougall, 37, could face up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine when he appears in 10th Circuit Court next Tuesday. His resignation submitted in a Dec. 28 letter comes months after he refused to step away from his two positions on the town boards. A judge convicted McDougall last month of stopping paramedics from taking his wife to the hospital. McDougall's wife repeatedly called 911 on the night of June 25, saying she was in severe pain due to an ongoing sinus problem.

Prosecutors have not indicated whether they will argue for McDougall to serve jail time. But before the trial, prosecutors upgraded the charge to a class A misdemeanor, so that a conviction could include a possible jail sentence. Despite what Judge Michael Sullivan decides, McDougall could still appeal his conviction to superior court, and argue to remain free on bail while the appeal is pending.

His run-in with paramedics on the night of June 25 was only the first with police and public safety officials. Two other incidents - with a police officer and Salem Fire Chief Kevin Breen weeks later - prompted Salem police to file charges of felony witness tampering, and misdemeanor counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct. Those charges are expected to be considered by a grand jury for possible indictment in Rockingham County Superior Court.

McDougall claimed at his trial last month that Salem police charged him with a crime as a sort of political payback for being a critic of town budgets.

His defense lawyer Neil Reardon argued that McDougall couldn't afford to pay for his wife's ambulance ride to the hospital.

Sullivan balked at those claims in a two-page order, finding McDougall guilty on the obstruction charge. The judge found that McDougall's defiant behavior "was less motivated by financial concerns, but more an antipathy toward the EMTs and police officers who tried to get medical help for Mrs. McDougall."


jkimble@newstote.com


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