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Home » News » Crime

December 18. 2013 7:17PM

Page Restaurant owners agree to pay $4,000 as part of plea deal


Owners to The Page Restaurant agreed to pay a $4,000 fine on Wednesday as part of a plea agreement with county prosecutors. (JAMES A. KIMBLE FILE)

BRENTWOOD — Owners of a defunct Portsmouth nightspot admitted to illegally serving alcohol on a dance floor prior to a deadly assault in their establishment, but their $4,000 fine will not be deposited into a forfeiture account controlled by the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office.
 
An owner for The Page Restaurant appeared in Rockingham County Superior Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty on behalf of the corporation to the felony alcohol charge.

Judge N. William Delker agreed to imposing a fine on New Adventure Entertainment, a limited liability corporation that controlled the downtown bar and restaurant.

Charges were brought against The Page after an unprovoked assault of Joshua Krantz, 24, of Dover, who died from being punched in the head by another patron on April 5, according to prosecutors.
 
Zachary O’Neill, 24, of Dover is scheduled for trial in January on charges of manslaughter and first-degree assault.

Interim County Attorney James Boffetti on Wednesday said the terms of the plea offer agreed to by The Page were made by suspended County Attorney James Reams.

Boffetti said his office will submit a request to a judge, so that the fine money goes into Rockingham County’s general fund.

The request runs counter to a practice by Reams, who for years placed money into a forfeiture account and doled out thousands of dollars in court-imposed fine money to area law enforcement agencies.

Roughly $139,890 in fines and seized cash from liquor and gambling prosecutions have been placed into the Rockingham County Attorney Forfeiture Account since August 2005, according to court and county bank records.
 
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported last week that the forfeiture account is being scrutinized as part of the investigation into Reams’ management of the county prosecutor’s office.

Reams acknowledged in an interview that he reimbursed his personal credit card thousands of dollars for travel to training conferences and related expenses, but maintained he kept meticulous records of those transactions.

He also said all funds spent from the forfeiture account were in compliance with federal and state guidelines.

The police department sent a letter to Rockingham County officials this week, claiming they are legally entitled to a portion of the funds, according to Boffetti and county commissioners.

Boffetti, a senior assistant attorney general, said he has no legal authority to disperse the fine money, and will not hand over any money to the Portsmouth Police Department.

A state law (RSA 179:61) does allow an agency that institutes the prosecution to reap such fines, but Boffetti said it was the county attorney’s office, not the police, that pursued the case.

“The felony was brought to the grand jury by this office,” he said.

“The plea negotiations were done by this office. The practice as you know was that the money went into the forfeiture account, but that’s not going to happen under any circumstance.”

Boffetti said county prosecutors will file a motion to have the fine money deposited into the county’s general fund.

He said county commissioners may be able to re-allocate a portion of the money to another law enforcement agency.
 
But County Commissioner Kevin Coyle said Wednesday that he believes that decision would rest with the 90-member county delegation, not the commissioners..

“They would have to do it as part of next year’s budget,” Coyle said.

jkimble@newstote.com


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