AUBURN — The chairman of the Auburn Police Commission has filed a criminal defamation complaint with police after an investigation cleared him of allegations contained in an anonymous email to a town official charging he pulled out a gun during an argument on April 5 at the Aloha restaurant in Manchester.
"It's just a bunch of horse baloney," said David Dion, who termed the email malicious. "I'm a little angry about it."
He questions when selectmen learned about the allegation since, he said, rumors were circulating around town about a week before the April 14 date on the anonymous email.
"It's just vindictive and I think it's all tied in to this negative feeling about the police department," Dion said. "Somebody wrote the email maliciously."
The matter was brought up at a hastily called selectmen's meeting Thursday morning at town hall.
The meeting, which residents packed, also took up a motion to fire Town Administrator William Herman. Selectman Richard Eaton, however, later rescinded his motion after residents took the board to task about it. (See related story.)
Sullivan said Eaton's motion to fire Herman had nothing to do with the email.
Dion appeared at the hearing, which was held in public at his request, with his attorney William Gannon of Manchester. Auburn police, who investigated the allegations, informed the board they were false.
Sullivan said he called the early morning meeting because he believed if the allegations were true, that the selectmen would have had to take steps to remove Dion from the police commission.
At the meeting, Dion received a copy of the anonymous email from "Auburn Resident" (firstname.lastname@example.org) that was sent to Herman and dated April 14.
The emailer wrote about listening to the Manchester Police Department's scanner about 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, and hearing that police were looking for a Mr. Dave Dion who was involved in a "verbal confrontation" at the Aloha restaurant where at some point "Mr. Dion 'displayed' a pistol. Report went on to say he left the Aloha immediately after."
The emailer wrote that about 10 minutes later an officer reported he stopped Dion, who had a valid conceal/carry permit and "Mr. Dion was the police commissioner for the town of Auburn. He also stated that Although (sic) he could smell alcohol on Mr. Dion, that he did not appear to be driving impaired and seemed to be in control physically and was cooperative."
The officer asked the watch commander or dispatcher to "Please advise," according to the email.
"After several moments, a voice came over the scanner requesting the officer "please make sure that Mr. Dion arrives safely to his residence but also to emphatically lecture Mr. Dion as to what his responsibilities are in holding a conceal/carry permit," the emailer wrote.
Dion said not a thing in the email is true. Police obtained transcripts of Manchester transmissions that night and there is no mention of any "Dave Dion." He said he was home in bed asleep that night.
His son, Jason, 20, however, was at McDonald's on Hanover Street, near the Aloha, that night. Someone, Dion said, saw his son had a holstered gun on his hip and called police. His son talked to an officer, showed him his permit and that was the end of it, Dion said.
While police informed selectmen at Thursday's meeting that there was no truth to the allegations, that is not the end of the investigation since Dion filed a criminal defamation complaint.
Chief Edward Picard said the department has an obligation to investigate Dion's complaint.
Dion said police have about a 95 percent chance of finding the IP address of the computer used to send the email.
The past couple of years have been tumultuous ones for the town, which has seen the police department at odds with road agent Michael Dross, who was under investigation after several tons of solid waste were found buried at the town's closed landfill.
The selectmen had a personnel investigation done by Concord attorney Craig L. Staples. That report suggested that it was more probable than not that subcontractor Darren Weatherbee, who quit working for Dross and then became a police informant, was the one who buried the solid waste.
In his report, Staples said he believes the police effort to tie Dross to the burial of solid waste at the landfill is probably politically motivated or retaliatory in nature.
Weatherbee informed the town in writing on Wednesday that he intends to sue. Herman said the town filed suit against Weatherbee to recover the cost of cleaning up the landfill.
- Pat Grossmith, New Hampshire Union Leader