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Manchester tenant faces rare felony nuisance charge

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 05. 2017 9:29PM
A man who said he worked for the homeowner cleaned up the yard of 82 Laurel St. in Manchester in June. A former tenant of the property is facing a felony nuisance charge. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A tenant who lived in a center-city house where neighbors frequently complained about drug use and rowdy behavior is facing what police say is a little-used felony charge — keeping a nuisance property.

George Vanamburg, 44, was indicted last month by a Hillsborough County grand jury. The felony charge carries a potential penalty of 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison and a $4,000 fine.

In July, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported on Vanamburg’s residence, 82 Laurel St., and the ire it drew from neighbors.

“The drunks lived downstairs, the druggies lived upstairs,” Laurel Street resident Shanna Gosselin said on Thursday. She was pleased to hear of the indictment when contacted by a reporter.

Manchester police Lt. Brian O’Keefe said the common nuisance law, RSA 318-B:16, is another tool that police can use to deal with problem addresses. Under the law, landlords can be charged as well as tenants.

“Our goal is to maintain a quality of life for everyone, regardless of what neighborhood they reside in,” said O’Keefe, the department’s spokesman.

Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan said the law has been on the books since 1969 and is used from time to time by authorities. Charges can be levied if property is used for the sale, use or storage of drugs.

Hogan said his office recently brought the charge in a Hillsborough County town when police didn’t have enough evidence for a charge of drug sales or trafficking.

“I imagine if you find a house floor-to-ceiling (with drugs), it would be pretty good evidence they were storing it,” Hogan said.

He said it would be difficult to bring a case against landlords, who would have to be involved, or at least have knowledge that drug activity was currently taking place.

“Usually, you don’t see it. The renter is not involving the landlord,” Hogan said.

The indictment lists Vanamburg’s address as 82 Laurel St., Apt. 2. It alleges that he knowingly kept a residence that was used to keep or sell drugs.

In late March, Manchester police raided the property, according to news reports. They didn’t find much: a pellet rifle, about $150 in cash, a baggie each of heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana. Two weeks before the raid, the landlord had started to evict Vanamburg, the landlord’s lawyer said.

Landlord Christopher Trosin of New Hampton found out about drugs only when police informed him about the raid, his lawyer, Brian Shaughnessey, said in July.

Neighbors have said that fights, screaming, and drug transactions peaked during the winter. They subsided a little after the raid, but were not curtailed until the evictions started.

Meanwhile, the house at 82 Laurel St. remains vacant.

Gosselin said rehabilitation work continues.

“We shouldn’t have had to live like that,” she said. “You can ruin your life if you want, but do it quietly.”

Crime Manchester

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