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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nashua Police Commissioner Pappas resigns, apologizes for his actions after ducks run over by David Campbell

NASHUA – A city police commissioner has resigned and apologized for his role in the ongoing controversy surrounding state Rep. David Campbell and the killing of five ducks outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

In a letter delivered to Gov. Maggie Hassan on Wednesday, Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas J. Pappas said he regrets his actions and tendered his resignation. ...

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NASHUA – A city police commissioner has resigned and apologized for his role in the ongoing controversy surrounding state Rep. David Campbell and the killing of five ducks outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

In a letter delivered to Gov. Maggie Hassan on Wednesday, Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas J. Pappas said he regrets his actions and tendered his resignation.

“I deeply regret my part in the events of December 23, 2013 and apologize to you, the Nashua Police Department and the public for the disruption that has occurred as a consequence of them,” the letter reads.

The resignation came as the attorney general’s office continued to probe the circumstances behind the Crowne Plaza incident.

The move also followed calls from some Nashua residents and at least one alderman for Pappas to step down.

Board of Aldermen President David Deane said Pappas made the appropriate choice by addressing the controversy this week.

“I’ve known Tom for a long time, and he, I guess he made a mistake and, you know, I think he’s pretty much doing the right thing,” Deane said. “He’s an honorable guy, and it’s too bad, but that’s the way it goes, I guess.”

Police records obtained by The Telegraph in January showed that Pappas came to Campbell’s aid after the Nashua Democrat struck and killed five ducks outside the Crowne Plaza.

Police were summoned to the scene by witnesses. A hotel manager told police the driver who struck the birds was “drunk,” while another witness said Campbell appeared intoxicated.

Campbell maintains that he had two drinks while dining at the hotel, but was not intoxicated.

Pappas drove Campbell away from the area, then contacted the police department about two hours later and arranged to have Campbell speak with police at a later time.

In the days that followed, Pappas refused to answer questions from police, telling investigators he was acting as Campbell’s attorney on Dec. 23 and that their conversations were privileged.

As governor, Hassan has the power to appoint and remove Nashua police commissioners with the approval of the Executive Council. Hassan previously said she would defer to the judgment of the attorney general before weighing in on the Crowne Plaza incident.

Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said Wednesday that the governor has accepted Pappas’ resignation, which was hand-delivered, and will present it to Executive Council at its regular meeting next week.

Pappas was first appointed to Nashua’s police commission by former Gov. John Lynch and reappointed to another three-year term by Hassan in August. His term would have ended September 2016.

Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau declined to comment on Pappas’ resignation Wednesday, saying the decision is between the governor and her appointee.

Nashua Police Commissioner Robert Valade also declined to comment. He said the commission has yet to determine who will serve as chairman in Pappas’ stead.

“I’m sorry that Commissioner Pappas is leaving,” Valade said. “He was an asset to the commission, no doubt about that.”

Nashua Police Chief John Seusing said he worked closely with Pappas since being promoted to deputy chief six years ago, especially the past two years as chief. He said Pappas was particularly engaged in the workings of the department and ways to improve it.

“Commissioner Pappas has been an extremely important part of our police commission over those years,” he said. “He’s been very progressive in his thinking and very involved in the police department.”

Seusing said what happened at the Crowne Plaza was “just a very unfortunate incident,” and declined to comment further before the conclusion of the attorney general’s office review.

“It’s unfortunate that it came to this, but I respect his decision,” Seusing said. “I’m sure he just didn’t want to shed any unfavorable light on the police department, and it’s unfortunate he’s not going to be a part of our police commission anymore.”

In his letter, Pappas wrote that he was heartened by the love and support given to him by family, friends and colleagues, and is “determined to move forward productively and positively by cooperating in any manner necessary with the investigation being conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.”

Campbell did not respond to a telephone message and an email seeking comment Wednesday.

Campbell previously apologized for striking the ducks and was cited by police for illegally taking waterfowl. He pleaded no contest and paid $695 in fines.

Telegraph staff writer Joseph G. Cote contributed to this report. Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).