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Patrick McDougall, 38, a former Salem budget committee member, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges. (JAMES A. KIMBALL PHOTO)

Former Salem official reaches plea agreement on misdemeanors

SALEM - Patrick McDougall, a former budget committee member, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges on Tuesday as part of a plea bargain that will allow him to avoid felony charges and the prospect of state prison.

McDougall, 38, received a suspended 120-day county jail sentence after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration. The deal was made in 10th Circuit Court in Salem the day before McDougall is expected to report to the Rockingham County jail to spend 48 hours behind bars on an earlier conviction. A judge found McDougall guilty on another obstructing government administration charge for barring emergency rescue workers from taking his wife to the hospital on June 26 after she called 911 twice.

In that case, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all but 48 hours of the term suspended.

Tuesday's plea agreement resulted in prosecutors dropping three felony counts of felony witness tampering against McDougall, who was a member of the budget committee and zoning board of adjustment at the time.

Those charges were brought days after the ambulance incident for separate run-ins with a Salem police officer and Fire Chief Kevin Breen at the Central Fire Station. McDougall had come to the fire station in search of records related to his initial criminal case but got into a heated confrontation with officials there, including Breen, before being asked to leave.

On Tuesday, McDougall was allowed to plead guilty to a class B misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, receiving a suspended $1,000 fine for his altercation with Breen. He also pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a second charge of obstructing government administration for telling a Salem police officer attempting to serve a subpoena on McDougall's wife that she was not home.

That conviction drew the suspended 120-day suspended jail sentence, which could be later imposed if McDougall does not remain on good behavior for the next two years.

Police said they were pleased with the disposition.

"We are happy to hear Mr. McDougall is taking responsibility for his actions," Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten said. "Hopefully, he can now focus on getting the help he thinks he needs."

If McDougall violates any terms of his plea agreement, including 50 hours of community service and a court-mandated anger management evaluation, he could find himself back in court, faced with more jail time.


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