SALEM, N.H. — Patrick McDougall, 37, a member of the town Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment, was arrested Friday night on three felony charges of witness tampering and single counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct.
McDougall, who also is a candidate for state representative, was taken into custody without incident and released on $2,500 personal recognizance.
McDougall already was awaiting trial on a charge of obstructing government administration, a Class B misdemeanor, in connection with an incident in late June. The newest charges are connected peripherally to that incident.
It all started June 25, when McDougall became argumentative with rescue personnel who responded to a 911 call from his wife. The obstruction charge resulted from that incident.
Contacted yesterday, McDougall said he had no comment.
“I’ll let my attorney handle it,” he said in a brief phone interview. “I learned my lesson the last time. My attorney will speak for me.”
In contrast, both McDougall and his wife spoke with reporters following the incident in June.
At that time, McDougall said he had no intention of resigning from either town board, a position he reiterated yesterday.
“Yeah, I’m moving forward with everything, with my campaign, and I’m not resigning from any board,” he said. “You know, innocent until proven guilty.”
After being charged with obstruction, McDougall was put in notice he was not to contact — directly or indirectly — any police or fire employees involved in the initial incident. A letter to that effect from police prosecutor Jason Grosky was delivered to McDougall in mid-July.
“Please be advised that should you not abide by this notice, you could face prosecution for felony witness tampering,” Grosky wrote July 13.
Seven weeks to the day later, arrest warrants were issued for three charges of witness tampering and the two other charg
The incidents leading up to the most recent charges started last Sunday when Officer Matt Mackenzie went to the McDougall home on Tiffany Road to serve a subpoena on Jane McDougall. She is being called as a witness for the prosecution in her husband’s obstruction trial.
But McDougall “became very upset,” according to the affidavit filed in support of the most recent arrest warrant, and told Mackenzie the subpoena should go to his lawyer, not his wife.
Mackenzie knocked on the residence door several times and could hear a woman’s voice inside the apartment. While the officer was waiting, Patrick McDougall “stormed” into the building, entered the apartment, slamming the door. Then Patrick McDougall re-emerged, telling Mackenzie his wife was sleeping.
He also blamed Mackenzie for “breaking up his family,” according to the affidavit.
While Mackenzie and Patrick McDougall were engaged in heated conversation, Jane McDougall yelled through a window that she was awake. She then came to the door and accepted service of the subpoena.
There is no spousal privilege in the state of New Hampshire, so Jane McDougall can be called to testify for the prosecution in her husband’s criminal case.
Police were reviewing the incident of Aug. 26, when Patrick McDougall had another verbal confrontation, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said yesterday.
At 11:30 Friday morning, Chief Kevin Breen notified police of a confrontation that had just occurred at the Central Firehouse.
Patrick McDougall showed up at the station and demanded to speak to Breen. He said h
e wanted information about a patient’s right to refuse ambulance service, according to an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant.
McDougall appeared “distraught,” Breen told police, and said he was there for information.
The letter from Grosky July 13 specifically put McDougall on notice he was not to contact any police or fire personnel involved in the incident in June.
Breen told McDougall on five separate occasions that the fire department does not have a specific policy regarding patients’ right to refuse ambulance service, according to the affidavit.
During his conversation with Breen Friday, McDougall directly referenced his criminal obstruction charge and told the fire chief his attorney wanted the information, according to the supporting affidavit.
Breen told police he believed the information McDougall was seeking was “absolutely” related to his open criminal case. The chief also told police he felt as though he were being interrogated by McDougall.
McDougall wanted Breen to tell him how many ambulance bills are written off, compared to the total number of transports. Breen directed McDougall to the town manager or finance department, the affidavit says.
As the conversation continued, McDougall became increasingly upset and agitated, the affidavit says. He told Breen it was a “nonproductive visit.”
As McDougall started to leave, he turned and put his face within a foot of Breen’s face, the affidavit says, and “began to sneer at him.”
The fire chief told McDougall to back up and “get out of his face.”
Breen told police he was “bracing for a possible physical confrontation.” He told police it appeared McDougall was “taking it to the next level.”
“He disrupted operations at the fire station,” Patten said yesterday. “Four employees, including Breen, were witnesses to the incident. They came out of their offices when they heard the altercation.”
That confrontation resulted in the arrest warrants for the five new charges. The incident at the fire station resulted in two felony witness tampering charges, one for disorderly conduct and a fourth charge
of criminal threatening.
At the same time, a warrant was issued for a single charge of felony witness tampering for the encounter at the McDougall home last Sunday when Mackenzie went to serve Jane McDougall with a subpoena.
The criminal case Jane McDougall is being subpoenaed for stemmed from a 911 she made in June.
She called 911 June 26, asking to be taken to the hospital for a “massive migraine,” according to a 911 recording obtained by The Eagle-Tribune in July. When Salem firefighters responded, McDougall refused transport for his wife.
While he argued with emergency responders, Jane McDougall made a second 911 call, telling the dispatcher she was in pain and needed help. The incident ended when Jane McDougall agreed to have her husband drive her to the hospital and signed a waiver, saying she was refusing treatment.
In an interview after the incident, Patrick McDougall said he wanted to avoid an $800 ambulance bill, but would never let financial concerns interfere with medical treatment for his family.
Less than 24 hours later, McDougall
fired off an email to Breen, police Chief Paul Donovan and Town Manager Keith Hickey. The Eagle-Tribune received a copy of that email through a Right-to-Know request. McDougall complained to town officials that one responding police officer was “rude and disrespectful towards me.”
He also accused firefighters of “mocking me and disrespecting our wishes to have them leave.”
Addressing Donovan and Breen, McDougall wrote “your personnel’s conduct was not appreciated and this matter needs to be investigated and address so that citizens in this community do not have to be treated this way by the public safety officials who we have a great respect for!!!”
Both chiefs said they conducted internal investigations and were satisfied department employees acted appropriately and professionally.
“Mr. McDougall has a history of interference and then claiming this exact same thing,” Patten said at the time. “Both officers on scene, including Community Affairs Officer Matthew Norcross, are veteran officers who are well known in the community and have had zero complaints against them of rudeness or inappropriate behavior throughout their entire careers.”
Breen also said there is relief available for those who cannot afford an ambulance bill. But McDougall said the hardship request isn’t an easy process.
“It’s not so easy that they can wave a magic wand and say the ambulance bill is over,” he said at the time.
After McDougall was charged with obstruction July 11, his wife rose to his defense, saying “he meant well” but was concerned about the cost of an ambulance ride.
“I think (the charge) is crazy. I was completely devastated when they said they had a warrant for his arrest,” she said at the time. “That’s absurd. I’m praying and hoping that they dismiss these charges.”
Police did not.
On July 30, Patrick McDougall pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge in 10th Circuit Court in Salem.
He declined comment after that court appearance, saying only his trial was scheduled for mid-September.
McDougall has maintained his seat on both town boards and has been campaigning for a spot on the November ballot for state representative. He is in the GOP primary next week. There are 12 Republicans seeking nine spots on the fall ballot.
At a GOP candidate forum Aug. 2, McDougall made light of the obstruction charge against him.
“While I read this speech, no one dial 911,” he said before speaking that night. “When this concludes, the truth will come out.”
McDougall is scheduled to appear in 10th Circuit Court in Salem Sept. 24 to answer to the newest charges.
Until then, according to his bail conditions, he cannot contact any town employee except at Budget Committee or ZBA meetings, and cannot enter Town Hall or the fire station.
In New Hampshire, a bail commissioner, who is a clerk of the court, signs arrest warrants and sets bail. The bail commissioner makes that determination with input from police, but on his or her own.
“We felt cash bail was more appropriate due to the escalation of Mr. McDougall’s behavior,” Patten said yesterday. “But w
e don’t make that decision.”
Follow Jo-Anne MacKenzie on Twitter @ETNHEditor.