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Man seeks return of equipment from Tenney Mountain ski area

Union Leader Correspondent

September 25. 2017 9:07PM

A handcuffed and leg-shackled Keith Fitzgerald offers a wave to the photographer as a bailiff escorts him out of Belknap County Superior Court on Monday. (Bea Lewis/Correspondent)

LACONIA — A lawyer representing a Center Harbor man convicted of stealing more than $400,000 from his father is pressing his client’s civil case that claims a tractor, a vintage Jeep and other assets he owns are being unlawfully held.

Keith Fitzgerald, 52, who is serving a 9-year prison sentence, filed suit against Tenney Mountain Development Group (TMDG), alleging that he was ordered off the property of the shuttered Plymouth ski area and was unable to retrieve a Honda ATV and construction materials and tools he had brought to the site.

During a Monday afternoon hearing in Belknap County Superior Court, Robert Hunt, Fitzgerald’s attorney, argued that TMDG should be found in contempt for failing to comply with an earlier order. Judge James D. O’Neill had previously ordered that Fitzgerald was entitled to the return of his property.

TMDG attorney James Laura has asserted that the items were being held as collateral for money his client lent to Fitzgerald and was never repaid. He also charged that the value of the items was inflated based on the dollar amounts Fitzgerald had given as part of his bankruptcy proceedings.

In December, a judge ordered that Fitzgerald was to retain an independent appraiser at his own expense to view the equipment, assess its value and produce a report to be filed with the court and provided to the defendant.

Hunt argued when the appraisal was done, some of the property was missing.

Laura countered that the items that were gone were trucked off by the defendant and that his client took pictures of the vehicles leaving the property. The rest of the items remain on site.

In his lawsuit, Fitzgerald claims he was hired by TMDG as chief operating officer to oversee the redevelopment and expansion of the defunct ski area. As part of that work, he supplied various equipment and the agreement between the parties was that he would be paid for his tractor, zero-turn mower and other tools when they were used as part of the project.

Previously, the court granted Fitzgerald a $375,000 attachment against TMDG’s real estate pending resolution of the dispute.

Michael Bouchard, the president of TMDG who is not named as a defendant in Fitzgerald’s suit, filed a counterclaim alleging that he was duped into giving Fitzgerald money for services not delivered.

During Monday’s hearing, Laura told the judge that Fitzgerald repeatedly approached Bouchard and told him he had considerable experience in securing EB-5 (immigrant investor) funding and that Fitzgerald’s company, Golden Gate Investment Advisers, could make TMDG a regional center for all other EB-5 activities.

Laura claimed that Fitzgerald misrepresented himself and his qualifications.

Bouchard’s complaint to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office about Fitzgerald, according to Hunt prompted an investigation and a review of his client’s books and his IRS 1099 showing the income he received as a contractor.

Laura maintains Fitzgerald was never an employee of TMDG and that he volunteered his expertise in EB-5 funding. He said his client had never asked for any of the equipment that Fitzgerald had trailered to the site and then billed Bouchard for the delivery costs.

Most recently, Laura told the judge Fitzgerald’s siblings are asserting claims to the equipment as part of the $410,000 court ordered restitution in the criminal case.

The judge said he would issue a written ruling at a later date.

Courts Crime Laconia Plymouth

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