EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 10, 2012

McDougall's obstruction trial closes

Salem official charged after run-in with police, firefighters

SALEM — Even Salem official Patrick McDougall’s wife, Jane, acknowledges he was disagreeable the night in late June he tried to keep firefighters from giving her an ambulance ride after she called 911 twice.

But it’s up to a judge to decide whether his actions, including initially telling firefighters to go away, rise to the level of conviction for obstructing government administration.

The incident occurred late June 25 and early June 26.

Defense attorney Neil Reardon told the judge “being abrasive, being loud and being negative” is not a crime.

After a trial that lasted more than two hours in 10th Circuit Court in Salem yesterday, Judge Michael Sullivan took the case under advisement without issuing a decision.

Jane McDougall, subpoenaed to testify by police prosecutor Jason Grosky, at times sobbed, wiped her face with tissues and pleaded for her family to be left alone while defending her husband.

“He meant well,” she said.

She insisted McDougall, 37, a member of the Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment, cooperated with firefighters and police, but was concerned about the ambulance ride potentially costing the family $800.

“He was just explaining to them that we don’t have any insurance,” she said.

She acknowledged calling 911 twice because she was in such pain from a migraine headache she was determined to get to the hospital for medicine.

Police Officer Matthew Norcross testified McDougall told his wife she was exaggerating.

“He told her he didn’t want her to go,” he said.

Norcross characterized Patrick McDougall as “very agitated” in his conversations with police and firefighters.

Firefighter Bradley Palmer related how McDougall told them through a closed door there was no problem.

He eventually let them inside, but was concerned about them taking his wife in the ambulance, Palmer said.

“I think his words were, ‘You’re trying to get $800 from me,’” the firefighter testified.

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