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Defense argues police can't prove what drug was being sold during video-taped transaction

CIRCUIT COURT — The attorney for Matthew Perkins, a local man charged with two counts of sales of narcotics drugs, argued yesterday that there was no probable cause for his arrest because the type of drugs he was allegedly selling are not identified in the complaints. The move came at a hearing yesterday in 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

After watching about an hour of home video footage showing Perkins, 24, formerly of 57 Holman St. appear to make two separate drug sales to two separate people at his brother's apartment on Gale Avenue, attorney Eric Wolpin challenged the arresting officer to identify the drugs that he sold using only the confiscated video.

Wolpin said while there is probable cause to indicate some kind of drug transaction took place with some kind of off-white or white substance packaged the way illegal drugs are often packaged, he challenged the arresting officer to identify the actual drug that was sold.

Matthew Perkins is Roger Perkins's brother. Roger Perkins was arrested in a drug raid at his Laconia home on 23 Gale Avenue on March 25. Drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, and methylone or MDMA were seized from his car and his apartment.

All of the items were tested at the state crime lab.

When police searched the apartment, they found what they described as a "sophisticated" video system hooked up to a laptop computer.

While reviewing what a detective described as nearly 100 hours of footage, police discovered that on March 23, Matthew Perkins was seen going into the back bedroom of his brother's apartment and making two drugs sales to two separate men.

The video, that was played in parts in court, clearly shows Matthew Perkins entering the apartment on March 23, going into the back bedroom, reaching into a closet in a back bedroom where police allegedly found Roger Perkins's drugs two days later, and selling packaged substances to two different men at two different times.

The detective said that when police interviewed the two alleged "buyers" both admitted to some degree to buying drugs. Neither, said the detective, could remember if he bought crack cocaine or cocaine.

City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer amended the complaints twice — the first time to include "cocaine, crack cocaine, methylone or other narcotic drug."

At the end of Wolpin's challenge, he amended it again to say crack cocaine or cocaine — eliminating "methylone or other narcotic drug." He also argued that both crack and cocaine are the same substance but in different forms so he wouldn't necessarily need to specify which one on the complaint.

Wolpin said that New Hampshire case law is vague on when drug must be identified, but offered two Massachusetts cases that showed some other kind of identification must be there to support an arrest before any seized drugs are tested at a lab.

Wolpin also said there is no way to tell if the drugs police found in the safe during Roger Perkins's arrest on March 25, were the same drugs as those being charged against his client for sales that allegedly took place two days earlier.

Because Sawyer hadn't had a chance to read the Massachusetts case law, Judge Jim Carroll made no ruling yesterday. He also allowed Sawyer time to file a written response to Wolpin's submissions.

Matthew Perkins is being held on $5,000 cash bail regarding the new charges. According to its website, Matthew Perkins is being held at the N.H. State Prison.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 12:33

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WEEKEND - Visitors & locals alike bring minor illnesses & injuries to LRGH's Convenience Care clinic (448 words)

LACONIA — "In the summer it's fish hooks all the time," said Deb Livernois, who as director of emergency medicine at LRGHealthcare oversees Convenience Care at Lakes Region General Hospital. "And in the winter we always know when it's school vacation in Massachusetts, because the kids come hobbling in from Gunstock."

Since Convenience Care, the walk-in clinic for minor but acute illnesses and injuries, opened in November 2012 Livernois said it has steadily grown in popularity among residents and visitors alike. She estimated that between 30 and 40 patients are treated each day, noting that "July was our busiest month so far when we treated 1,079 patients."

The clinic serves as a bridge between primary care and emergency services by offering an alternative to both at less cost then either. Unlike an office visit, no appointment is necessary and unlike the emergency room patients are spared long waits for treatment.

Staffed by a nurse practitioner and two or three nurses, the clinic treats a wide range of conditions — colds, flu, sore throats, ear aches, allergies, sprains, burns and cuts. The clinic operates by "self-diagnosis" or "self-triage," as patients themselves determine the severity of their illness or injury. Livernois said that patients are seldom transferred to he emergency room or other departments.

Greg Englund, the first nurse practitioner hired for the clinic, agreed that the system works well, but stressed that if a patient requires more intensive treatment the clinic is directly connected to the emergency room, less than a minute away. Moreover, he said that if necessary he can confer directly with the full range of physicians and specialists in the hospital. With training and experience in trauma, pediatrics and gynecology as well as emergency medicine, Englund is prepared to splint a broken bone, suture a laceration, even perform minor surgery to remove foreign objects, for example.

Convenience Care is adjacent to the main lobby of the hospital. Patients take a number, proceed to registration and then to a triage room, where a nurse reads their vital signs, reviews their condition, prepares their chart and takes them to one of five private room, where they are treated by the nurse practitioner. The clinic also houses laboratory and X-ray services.

Englund said that patients are treated in the order in which they arrive and most are released within an hour. "We can care for a number of patients at a time and if lab tests or X-rays are necessary, they can be done quickly," he said.

Convenience Care accepts most insurances, but not Medicaid. Self-pay and Medicaid patients are charged a flat fee of $150, which includes the cost of any tests. The clinic operates from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 03:03

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Senator Hosmer tells Rotarians his job is all about serving constituents

LACONIA — "I love serving in the New Hampshire Senate," said Andrew Hosmer of Laconia. "I'm not there to represent a party or an ideology, but to represent the people who elected me."

Hosmer, a Democrat and executive at AutoServ in Tilton who is seeking re-election to a second term, was speaking the Laconia Rotary Club yesterday at the Belknap Mill. He began by recalling the major achievements of the Legislature during his first term, highlighting the bipartisan support they enjoyed.

The budget, which carried the Senate by an unanimous vote of its 24 members, he said increased funding for mental health services as well as restored distribution of proceeds from the rooms and meals tax to cities and towns. The tax credit for businesses investing in research and development was doubled. The gas tax was raised for the first time in more than 20 years with a proviso that all the incremental revenue of $32-million must be applied to roads and bridges.

Perhaps most important, after much debate and negotiation a bipartisan compromise was reached to use federal funds to extend health insurance, including benefits for mental health services and substance abuse treatment, to some some 50,000 people without it. However, Hosmer stressed that at the end of 2016, when the federal government will no longer fully fund the program, it will lapse unless the Legislature can marshal the funds to extend it.

Apart from healthcare Hosmer said that the next Legislature will face a number other challenges, beginning with what he called "a very challenging budget." Pledging to oppose the introduction of a general sales or personal income tax, he said that he believed that a responsible budget could be fashioned without either.

Hosmer said that while there is much discussion of business taxes rising workers compensation rates, which represent "another cost shift to businesses," should not be overlooked. He said that steps should be taken to limit the increases in rates and reform the entire system.

Emphasizing the need to diversify the state's energy portfolio, Hosmer acknowledged that wind farms and Northern Pass are both highly controversial. But, he pointed out that Northern Pass would increase employment by 500 jobs and property values by 60 percent in Franklin, which lies within Senate District 7. He said that more miles of transmission line should be buried to spare the landscape in the North County, but insisted "not diversifying our energy portfolio is not an option."

Hosmer said that he shared the opinion of Mayor Ed Engler of Laconia that the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street represented a valuable asset and significant opportunity for both the state and the city. "It's an economic engine waiting to be tuned up and fired up," he said. He explained that he worked to scuttle legislation that would have hindered sale of the property to the city last year, leaving the option for the city to acquire the property open.

Responding to a question, Hosmer reminded his listeners that he was among the sponsors of a bill to authorize casino gambling as well as an amendment that would have distributed a share of the proceeds to cities and towns. "I think it will come back next year," he said, cautioning that "expanded gambling won't solve everything, but it would have a positive economic impact."

Hosmer has no rival for the Democratic nomination and will face Republican Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin in the general election in November. District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:32

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2 school buses involved in minor accidents

LACONIA — Superintendent Terri Forsten said yesterday that there were two minor school bus accidents during the first three days of school.

The first was on Wednesday morning when a bus that had just dropped off students at the Laconia Middle School was rear-ended at 7:50 a.m. by a car near the Lakeport Square intersection on Elm Street.

She said the bus had no students in it but had stopped at the railroad tracks. Forsten said the bus appeared to be undamaged but the car that hit it had some front end damage.

Forsten said that now that school is in session, motorists should remember that all school buses, whether they are empty or not, must stop at all railroad crossings.

The second accident happened yesterday afternoon when a school bus with about seven middle and high school students aboard clipped mirrors with another vehicle on Union Avenue near Irwin Marine.

The bus pulled into the marina and the Laconia Police responded as did School District Business Administrator Ed Emond.

No was was injured and Forsten said the students stayed on the bus for about an hour until a second bus could come and take them home. Because the bus's mirror is needed for driving, she said no students could be on it.

Yesterday's mishap set the Elm Street Elementary School schedule back by about 20 minutes because the same bus is used to transport them after its middle/high school run.  Forsten said the School District called all of the parents involved to tell them they were going to be late.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:00

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