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April 23, 2013

Windham police try to avoid possible conflict

Two selectmen are defense lawyers

Salem police have been asked to prosecute a Windham case because the suspect’s defense lawyers are two Windham selectmen.

Windham police asked for Salem’s assistance to avoid a potential conflict of interest involving Selectmen Kathleen DiFruscia and Ross McLeod, according to police Chief Gerald Lewis.

The case involves Jeffrey Yennaco, 40, of 8 Hidden Valley Road, Windham.

Yennaco faces felony charges following a domestic dispute March 14 when police said he threatened and assaulted his estranged wife, Alison Kachanian.

Yennaco, a Windham businessman, grabbed the woman by the shoulder and wrist, and threatened to kill her, according to court records. He also is charged with driving a vehicle toward Kachanian in an attempt to injure her, police said.

Yennaco, who is free on bail, is charged with criminal threatening, reckless conduct and simple assault. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for May 23 in 10th Circuit in Salem.

Lewis said yesterday it was in the town’s best interest to have another department handle the case since Windham selectmen are tasked with overseeing his department.

“We see that as a potential conflict,” he said.

The department has had a good working relationship with the two selectmen, Lewis said, and he doesn’t personally believe there is a conflict. It’s the first time this type of issue has arisen, he said.

Windham will not have to pay Salem to prosecute the case, Lewis said. The two towns often share prosecutors, especially if there is an illness or other absence, he said.

Salem prosecutor Jason Grosky said he doesn’t mind handling Windham’s case because the two towns have a sound cooperative relationship. Grosky said he’s received more help from Windham than Windham has received from him.

“It’s not a problem,” he said.

Windham officials praised the move, including DiFruscia, saying it avoids what could be a troublesome situation, whether there is a conflict or not.

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