EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 17, 2012

Salem official found guilty in 911 call case

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie
jmackenzie@eagletribune.com

---- — SALEM -- Patrick McDougall, a member of the town Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment, has been found guilty of obstructing government administration by 10th Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan.

In a decision issued Friday, Sullivan wrote, "I conclude defendant's obstreperous behavior was less motivated by financial concerns, but more an antipathy toward the EMT's and police officers who tried to get medical help for Mrs. McDougall."

The charge stems from an incident overnight June 25 and 26, when McDougall's wife Jane called 911, requesting an ambulance take her to the hospital for a severe migraine.

When EMT's arrived, Jane McDougall was sweating profusely, held an ice bag to her head and tried to shield her eyes from the light, according to testimony.

When firefighters went to the McDougall home, Patrick McDougall, 37, answered the door to the apartment and said there was no problem. He eventually allowed EMT's inside, who then witnessed Jane McDougall's condition. But her husband accused first responders of trying to get $800 from him for the ambulance, when he had no health insurance.

Meanwhile, Jane McDougall made a second 911 call and told the dispatcher her husband was arguing with emergency workers.

Police were called to help deal with Patrick McDougall, who said he had the right to refuse treatment for his wife.

He continued to argue with police and fire personnel, making disparaging comments to police and fire personnel, Sullivan wrote.

Finally, Jane McDougall signed a "refusal of medical care release" form and her husband agreed to drive her to the hospital. She was treated there and later released.

The entire event took about 40 minutes, according to the judge's decision, an event he characterized as "out of the ordinary."

McDougall later complained to fire Chief Kevin Breen about the incident, claiming he had been treated unfairly because of previous critical comments he had made about both police and fire. He also said his wife was exaggerating her medical condition and reiterated his inability to pay for an ambulance, Sullivan wrote.

But Breen tesitifed McDougall had twice previously been advised of and assisted in obtaining an abatement for earlier ambulance bills.

"Thus, the protestations of the defendant about anticipated ambulance/medical charges ring hollow," Sullivan wrote.

He found McDougall guilty as charged.

During Patrick McDougall's trial last week, defense attorney Neil Reardon said “being abrasive, being loud and being negative” is not a crime. The trial lasted about two hours.

Jane McDougall testified and said her husband "meant well."

Sentencing will follow. The charge is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.