EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 2, 2008

Caron's name comes up in Solomon investigation

METHUEN — James Caron, the man police call the "main person of interest" in the death of Debbie Hoare, says he has a "clean" criminal record.

But he's had one noticeable brush with the law in the past decade.

Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon, his former brother-in-law, is accused of coming to his aid in a tractor theft investigation originally launched in Kensington, N.H.

Caron never faced any charges, but the case caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Agents from the Lowell office reviewed the tractor theft case in February 2007, said Kensington, N.H., police Chief Wayne Sheehan.

"We were unsure what they were looking for. ... But it was certainly interesting the FBI wanted to review our case," Sheehan said.

Methuen Mayor William Manzi is now using, in part, the chief's alleged interference in the tractor theft case as grounds to fire Solomon. A Civil Service hearing to determine whether Solomon will be reprimanded, suspended or terminated started Feb. 19 and will continue in March.

Solomon's lawyer, Andrew Gambaccini, said the chief denies any allegations that he interfered with police investigations involving family members.

"We expect to defend the charges vigorously and expect to prevail," Gambaccini said, declining to comment on any specific allegation.

Despite repeated attempts, Caron could not be reached for comment for this story.

Caron, 41, was also involved in a 2001 accident with the city's police patrol boat.

That August, Caron filed an accident report saying his boat, a 2000 Stingray Runabout valued at $15,000, was struck twice by a police boat driven by then-Methuen Patrolman David DeBurro. Caron claimed the entire port side of his boat's fiberglass was cracked during the crashes on the Merrimack River.

To this date, DeBurro, who later resigned from the department under duress, maintains that the accident never happened.

A boat accident report was compiled and forwarded to Solomon, who was then a police captain, and then-Sgt. Kristopher McCarthy.

Staff reporter Jill Harmacinski can be reached at 978-946-2209 or by e-mail at JHarmacinski@eagletribune.com.

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