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Ex-Bristol chief facing felonies for allegedly paying himself bogus OT with federal grants

Union Leader Correspondent

June 20. 2018 9:35AM

Michael Lewis resigned as Bristol’s police chief last October and is now facing criminal charges.

BRISTOL — Michael Lewis, the town’s former police chief, has been indicted for theft, sexual assault and simple assault by a Grafton County grand jury.

Lewis, 38, resigned last October after having been placed on administrative leave. He’s now facing three felony counts of theft by deception as well as a misdemeanor for either sexual assault or simple assault.

The sexual assault charge alleges that on Aug. 31 2017, Chief Lewis came up behind a woman and placed his hands on her buttocks. The simple assault charge is an alternative interpretation of the same incident, instead characterizing it as unprivileged physical contact.

The June 15 indictments allege Lewis exercised unauthorized control over town funds by knowingly claiming he worked overtime details that he had not.

Lewis is to be arraigned in Grafton County Superior Court on July 16. Efforts to reach Lewis on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The theft charges allege Lewis collected more than $4,500 in overtime over the years. Each is a Class A felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison. The misdemeanor charge of either simple or sexual assault is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

If convicted, Lewis would be stripped of his certification as a police officer. Assistant Grafton County Attorney Antonia Barry is prosecuting the case, which began with an investigation by the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department prompted by town concerns.

Town Administrator Nicholas Coates said an internal review of personnel practices raised concerns about Lewis’ use of federal Highway Safety Agency grants for police details. After reviewing grant paperwork and related files, the town asked the Attorney General’s office and the county attorney to investigate.

“By state law, police chiefs are afforded a certain level of autonomy,” Coates said. “However, when the selectboard was made aware of these concerns it took action swiftly and decisively.”

A resident of Ashland, Lewis was placed on indefinite administrative leave Sept. 5, 2017, for undisclosed reasons. He resigned 29 days later. Before his departure, Lewis earned $58,474.40 in regular pay, $8,252.53 in overtime and $1,280 in special-duty assignments in 2017.

Lewis joined the department in 2004. He succeeded Chief John Clark, who stepped down in August 2010. Lewis spent six months as interim chief before being officially appointed in 2011.

The Bristol Police Department is now under the leadership of Chief Deputy James McIntire, who most recently served with the Northfield Police Department. McIntire previously worked in Laconia, Belmont, Bow and for the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department. He was sworn into office in April.

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