Michael Gill a no-show in Nashua court; son says mortgage kingpin is in Washington, D.C.By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
and MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 04. 2018 11:49PM
NASHUA — Mortgage broker Michael Gill, ordered to pay $274.5 million for defaming three Manchester-area businessmen, was spending time in Washington, D.C., rather than appearing at two court hearings in New Hampshire, his son said Friday.
“I know he is doing what he feels is right,” Michael Gill Jr. told the New Hampshire Union Leader after a scheduled hearing for his father was canceled.
“What they are asking for is ridiculous. It is completely insane.”
Two hours later, an attorney representing the defamed men told a Superior Court judge in Concord that the elder Gill continues posting defamatory comments on Facebook.
“I literally cannot keep up with how fast he is violating your order and continuing to defame my clients,” attorney Timothy McLaughlin told Judge Brian Tucker in Merrimack County Superior Court.
Tucker said he will make a referral to the Merrimack County Attorney’s office to consider bringing a criminal contempt charge against the elder Gill, which could lead to his possible arrest.
Tucker said Friday that incarcerating Gill would stop him from posting new statements, but added: “I can’t incarcerate him forever.”
Tucker presided over the defamation case in which a jury awarded AutoFair executive Andy Crews, Manchester developer Dick Anagnost and Primary Bank founder William Greiner a total of $274.5 million.
The elder Gill didn’t appear at either of two hearings Friday.
Assistant Merrimack County Attorney George Stewart, commenting generally about the law, said pursuing a criminal contempt route could help bring back a defendant to answer for his actions.
“If a criminal contempt charge is filed and a warrant is issued based on that criminal contempt charge, the warrant is roughly equivalent to a misdemeanor warrant and a person could be arrested on that,” Stewart said in an interview. “It can be used in-state or across state lines.”
The elder Gill had been ordered to stop defaming the men on billboards, a radio show and in social media posts.
Crews said the case still is taking a toll on his family.
“I know the courts are doing everything they can but at some point, we’ve got to say what is wrong with our judicial system that we can’t bring a person to justice and actually make them pay,” Crews said after the hearing.
Greiner said Gill’s Facebook posts continue to pop up on his social media feed.
In a separate case, a Rockingham County Superior Court judge recently ordered Michael Gill Sr. to pay $5 million in damages to Manchester lawyer and Catholic Medical Center executive Alex Walker Jr., who brought suit after his name and photograph were displayed on one of Gill’s billboards with a defamatory message.
On Friday, Michael Gill Jr. criticized the $274.5 million jury award, saying his father “is going to keep fighting. He is resilient.”
Gill Jr. appeared in a Nashua courtroom in place of his father, who owes the city more than $30,000 in fines.
Steve Bolton, the city’s attorney, said The Mortgage Specialists, owned by Michael Gill Sr., owes $31,900 in fines for 12 violations of the city’s sign ordinance, all related to the sign outside the 327 Amherst St. branch.
“The sign doesn’t have a permit,” Bolton said. The alleged offenses took place in June and July of 2016 in regard to the size of the sign, the flashing lights on the sign, the number of lines of text on the sign and the frequency of messages.
Bolton stressed that the violations have nothing to do with the content of the messages displayed. The signs were notorious for controversial political messages and accusations of corruption against individuals.
A hearing to show cause in Nashua Circuit Court didn’t take place because Michael Gill Sr. failed to appear, according to a court clerk.
“We want you to pay it,” Bolton told the younger Gill during an informal discussion in the courtroom.
“We are not going to pay for now,” Gill Jr. told the city attorney.
The younger Gill, who serves as branch manager at The Mortgage Specialists’ Nashua location, told the Union Leader that the company has complied with all of the city’s requests by removing the flashing lights, adhering to the maximum lines of text permitted and adding its logo to the bottom of the billboard.
“We believe this is purely because of the content on the sign, even though they are saying we broke sign regulations, which is completely false. We have complied with everything they’ve asked for,” he said.
The Nashua billboard is still in operation. On Friday, the video sign was displaying an image of the American flag, and separate statements of “Live Free or Die” and “State of Corruption,” along with advertisements for the mortgage company.