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February 05. 2014 6:51PM

Nashua police commissioner resigns in wake of dead ducks flap

NASHUA -- Thomas Pappas, chairman of the Nashua Police Commission, voluntarily resigned from his position on Wednesday, about three weeks after his involvement in state Rep. David Campbell's duck killing incident was revealed.

"He regrets greatly his role and the events of Dec. 23," Attorney Jim Rosenberg said of Pappas. "He is deeply saddened by the fact that he is resigning his post now."

Campbell called Pappas after he had a couple of drinks and ultimately ran over several mallard ducks with his BMW, killing five of them on Dec. 23 outside of the Crowne Plaza.

Pappas, Campbell's friend and attorney, then picked Campbell up from the hotel where the night manager had described Campbell as drunk. Pappas then contacted the police department about two hours after the accident and asked whether Campbell could come into the station the following morning for questioning, according to a police report.

After details about Pappas' involvement were revealed last month, two city officials, Alderman-at-Large Diane Sheehan and Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, said it was time for Pappas to step down.

Click below to hear the police audio:

On Wednesday, Pappas handed in his resignation to Gov. Maggie Hassan.

"Governor Hassan accepts Mr. Pappas' decision, and his resignation will be submitted for official acceptance to the Executive Council at next week's meeting," said Marc Goldberg, a spokesman for Gov. Hassan.

Rosenberg, Pappas' lawyer, stressed Wednesday that his client's resignation was an independent decision and was not required by the Attorney General's Office, which is currently investigating the circumstances.

Pappas feared that if he continued to serve as a police commissioner it would be a disservice to the Nashua Police Department, according to Rosenberg.

"He would not have that," said Rosenberg. "He truly, truly has a heavy heart."

Pappas' attorney went on to say that Pappas is incredibly proud to have served the citizens of Nashua and the police force for so many years.

"He poured energy and intellect and professional experience into tending to the affairs of the Nashua Police Department," Rosenberg said of Pappas.

Pappas has repeatedly declined to comment on the controversy, but Rosenberg maintains that Pappas will continue to cooperate in the Attorney General's investigation.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Wednesday that she has no comment or reaction to Pappas' resignation, other than saying "the matter is between the governor and her appointee."

Nashua is currently the only community in the state that still has its police commission members appointed by the governor and approved by the Executive Council, a practice that has taken place since the 1920s or 1930s.

Pappas has been a Nashua police commissioner for about six years. He was originally appointed by former Gov. John Lynch, and was reappointed to another three-year term by Hassan in September 2013.

"Certainly, this incident involving Commissioner Pappas has been very unfortunate," Nashua Police Chief John Seusing said on Wednesday. Seusing said he respects Pappas' decision, as the police commissioner believed it would be in the best interests of the police department to step down.

"He has been a very valuable member of the police commission," Seusing said of Pappas. "He is very progressive in his thinking, and very engaging."

Seusing stressed that Pappas has worked hard to make the department better, and that he has done an outstanding job for the force.

"We are going to miss him," added the chief.

Campbell has repeatedly apologized for the incident, maintaining that he was not intoxicated when he killed the five ducks. He pleaded no contest to one charge of illegal taking of waterfowl, and paid a fine of $620 for the violation and a $75 restitution payment and made a donation of $695 to New Hampshire Audubon.

khoughton@newstote.com


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