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Alderman says AG's report 'exonerated' him

Staff Report
February 13. 2014 9:51PM

Joe Kelly Levasseur 

MANCHESTER — Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur said he was "exonerated" by the report released by the state's attorney general this week concerning a confrontation with a city police officer and an ensuing controversy with Police Chief David Mara.

Levasseur noted that the Attorney General's Office did not charge him with filing a false report.

"I was exonerated by the Attorney General's Office," Levasseur said. "I am happy that the investigation is over, although I feel they did not investigate the proper issue."

Levasseur said the entire controversy over an allegation that he was "poked" by Officer Steven Mahoney is rooted in a claim by one of his law clients that she was assaulted by a city police officer.

Members of the city Board of Mayor and Aldermen are reluctant to comment on the report on Levasseur's allegations that Mahoney tried to intimidate him.

In the report, released Wednesday, Attorney General Joseph Foster termed Levasseur's claims "unfounded."

A press release accompanying the report referred to Levasseur's allegations as "untruthful," although the word untruthful does not appear in the actual report.

A copy of Foster's findings was sent by email to all members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen by City Clerk Matthew Normand. In the accompanying email, Normand said he was furnishing the report at the request of Mara.

Eight members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, including Mayor Ted Gatsas, were contacted by the New Hampshire Union Leader. None would comment on the substance of Foster's findings. The other seven members could not be reached or did not return telephone calls.

Gatsas would say only that "the report speaks for itself," a sentiment repeated by Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig.

But Ludwig said the city's governing body has better things to think about.

"It is kind of a waste of time that is taking us away from everything we should be doing," Ludwig said.

Levasseur's allegations were first made to Mara, who forwarded the matter to the attorney general.

In his report, Foster said he considered Levasseur's statements as the equivalent of an allegation that Maloney committed the criminal act of simple assault.

Levasseur said Thursday that he never asked for any criminal charges to be brought.

Alderman Edward Osborne would not comment, referring to the report as "a civil matter."

The dean of the board, Alderman William Shea, said only that, "I would have to discuss that with my colleagues."

Alderman Joyce Craig said flatly she did not want to discuss the issue with a reporter.

Others were reluctant to either endorse or object to Foster's findings.

"The attorney general has the information. He made the determination, and it will have to go from there," Alderman Barbara Shaw said. "I don't have any other comment."

Alderman Bill Barry said he felt it would be "unfair" for him to comment on the attorney general's findings,

Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirshmann said "it didn't seem to be much of a finding.""It sounds to me like a personal argument between two people who aren't getting along with each other," Hirshmann said. "It didn't rise to a criminal act; the policeman said something, the alderman said something."In contrast to his colleagues, former Alderman Phil Greazzo had a lot to say about the report and about Levasseur, with whom he feuded for much of 2013.

"He likes to raise allegations that are unfounded and hopes everything will explode elsewhere, and he will not be held accountable for anything," Greazzo said.

Greazzo, who said his statements about Levasseur are not "sour grapes" over past disagreements between the two, said the matter should be referred to the city Public Conduct Board, which is established by the city charter to investigate malfeasance by city officers.

"I believe his conduct falls under sections of the charter that allow the aldermen to remove him," Greazzo said.

As an attorney, Levasseur is subject to the Code of Professional Conduct for attorneys. The ethics code states that it is professional misconduct to "engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

The Attorney General's Office won't say whether it has any plans to present its findings to the Committee on Professional Conduct, which has the authority to investigate attorneys and recommend sanctions.

Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati refused to say whether Foster will make a formal complaint to the committee.

"We recognize our professional obligation," Agati said.

Janet Devito, general counsel to the committee, said a signed formal complaint, verified by a notary public or justice of the peace, is needed to proceed with a formal investigation of a complaint.

It is unclear what weight, if any, Foster's findings might have if the Professional Conduct Committee was to receive such a verified complaint concerning Levasseur's actions in the police controversy.

The report Foster issued is not the product of a formal proceeding in which Levasseur could confront witnesses against him.

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