EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 16, 2013

Former Salem official gets two days in jail

McDougall must perform community service, get anger management help

By Doug Ireland

---- — SALEM —  Former Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment member Patrick McDougall will soon be exchanging his trademark dark suit for a bright orange jumpsuit.

McDougall, 38, was sentenced yesterday in 10th Circuit Court to two days in jail and 50 hours of community service for interfering with paramedics trying to transport his wife, Jane, to the hospital after she called 911 in June. She complained of a severe headache.

He also received 28 days of suspended jail time and a year of probation. McDougall was ordered to receive anger management counseling, and must stay away from fire Chief Kevin Breen and Fire Department property.

As he handed down his sentence, Judge Michael Sullivan chastised McDougall, saying he betrayed his wife’s trust and served as a poor role model for the couple’s 7-year-old son.

“You obviously have an anger problem, you really do,” Sullivan said

“You basically blow her off,” Sullivan said, referring to the late-night incident June 25.

McDougall, convicted last month on a charge of obstructing government administration, argued with the paramedics who arrived at his Tiffany Road home. He told them he would bring her to the hospital himself, admitting later it was because he would not be able to afford the ambulance bill.

McDougall fought back tears throughout the sentencing, wiping his eyes with a tissue and sobbing at one point.

He stood before Sullivan and said he loved his wife and son. McDougall recently resigned from both Salem boards.

“I love this community and I love the people of this community, but I love my family more,” he said.

McDougall also offered a general apology to the paramedics.

“I’m really sorry for any harsh wrongdoing I caused to the public safety officials who were at my home that evening,” McDougall told Sullivan.

He said the fatal shootings of 26 people at a Connecticut school last month helped him develop a true appreciation for emergency personnel.

“They are our first responders,” he said. “It put it all in perspective that they are there for us.”

Before McDougall spoke, his wife and mother, Carol McDougall, also addressed the court.

Jane McDougall said the incident has had a dramatic impact on their lives. McDougall also faces several felony charges in a related case.

His wife broke down as she spoke to Sullivan.

“My son and I need my husband, we need him,” she said. “He’s a good person.”

The entire matter has devastated their son, she said.

“I’m sorry I was sick that night,” she said. “This is destroying my family.”

As Jane McDougall went to sit down, she turned toward her husband.   

“I love you, Patrick,” she said. “It’s going to be OK.”

Carol McDougall also addressed the impact on her 7-year-old grandson, who watched as his father was handcuffed and taken away by police.  

“He is so afraid to be away from his father because he’s afraid he will go home and he’s not there,” she said.

Carol McDougall said her son would help anyone in need and “wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“He is so loving and caring with his family,” she said. “They are his whole life.”

McDougall’s attorney, Neil Reardon, said his client was a good person who made a mistake. The offense he committed did not warrant jail time, he said.

“I think jail time in this case is entirely inappropriate,” Reardon said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Police prosecutor Jason Grosky recommended McDougall spend at least 21 days in jail as part of a six-month sentence, with the remainder suspended for two years.

He also recommended a year of probation, anger management counseling and 50 hours of community service.

McDougall could have received up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. He will begin serving his sentence Jan. 23.

As the sentencing concluded, McDougall thanked Sullivan.

“I appreciate you trying to teach me a lesson,” he said.

Sullivan told him he needed to treat his wife with more respect.

“I love my wife dearly,” McDougall said. “I’m lucky to have her.”

McDougall declined to comment after the sentencing.

A hearing on the other charges he faces is set for Tuesday. McDougall was charged with witness tampering, disorderly conduct and criminal threatening after confrontations with Breen and police officers serving a subpoena.  

Breen declined to comment on the sentence.

Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten reserved comment because of the other pending charges.

“I think the sentence reflects the seriousness of the charges,” he said.