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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Don Breault, left, a former Hudson police captain, listens to testimony alongside his attorney Eric Wilson during Breault's trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court Tuesday, March 15, 2011. He is accused of allegedly stealing money from the town by falsifying payroll reports.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Don Breault, a former police captain with the Hudson Police Department.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Hudson Police Chief Jason Lavoie testifies for the state in the trial of Don Breault, below, a former police captain accused of allegedly stealing money from the town by falsifying payroll reports.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Hudson Police Chief Jason Lavoie testifies for the state in the trial of Don Breault, a former police captain accused of allegedly stealing money from the town by falsifying payroll reports.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chief: Breault was bitter

NASHUA – Not long into his first year as police chief of Hudson, Jason Lavoie noticed something different about one of his captains, Donald Breault.

Lavoie and Donald Breault had both applied for the chief’s position in 2008. After Lavoie won the job, he told Breault he wanted him to stay, and that he needed his experience and skills, particularly in preparing the department’s budget.

But Breault started showing up late to work and eventually admitted he was bitter that he didn’t get the top job. In a meeting, Breault closed the chief’s office door and told Lavoie there was nothing that could be done about his tardiness.

“What are you going to do to me? I’m never going to be the chief in Hudson,” Lavoie said Breault told him.

That’s the testimony Lavoie gave Tuesday in the felony theft trial of Breault.

After describing their working relationship over two decades, and how he had expected Breault to continue being a valuable member of his staff, Lavoie reviewed for the jury countless documents that prosecutors say illustrate how Breault instead chose to game the system.

A 20-year veteran of the Hudson police force, Breault allegedly profited more than $2,600 by improperly switching paid vacation hours and unpaid comp time in the department’s internal computer program.

The felony theft charge alleges Breault stole more than $1,000, and he faces 10 misdemeanor computer crimes for allegedly manipulating work hours.

Breault was placed on leave in 2009, when Lavoie and the attorney general’s office approached him about the alleged crime and was fired by the town of Hudson a year later.

In his opening argument Monday, defense attorney Eric Wilson said Breault had committed no crimes but rather filed hours in a system that had no proper rules. Moreover, Breault was the victim of Lavoie’s attempt to chase him out of the police department, Wilson said.

On Tuesday, Wilson said very little, other than to repeatedly object to the ways in which Assistant Attorney General James Vara introduced evidence and occasionally object to the line of questioning in the direct examination of Lavoie.

Vara presented more than a dozen files of evidence that allegedly show how Breault manipulated hours in the police department’s internal system. Lavoie, answering Vara’s questions, explained the ways in which the town and department track hours worked and how Breault allegedly changed his hours for financial gain.

For instance, when Breault took five days of vacation in 2009, he had filed a request citing he would use 40 hours of earned time, the term used for either paid vacation, holiday or sick time, Lavoie said.

But some time later, Breault – who was only one of three people who had access to this program – altered his hours in the internal system to show that he used five unpaid comp days for the vacation, enabling him to save the paid vacation days for a later time, Lavoie said.

For another five-day vacation, Breault had initially filed that he was using comp time for two of those days but later changed the internal record to show he didn’t use any comp time, Lavoie said. “It allows him to use those 24 hours (of comp time) again in the future,” Lavoie said.

Breault also gained comp time by filing for hours he didn’t work, Lavoie said. The chief and the department’s two captains are salaried so extra time spent at town events is accumulated as comp time and used at a later date, he said.

Lavoie cited several examples of Breault allegedly adding more overtime hours than he had worked or fabricating overtime work that he didn’t perform – all to gain extra comp hours.

For instance, Breault once claimed to come into work two hours early to clean snow off his car, something officers never do, Lavoie said. And Breault claimed comp time for attending Lavoie’s swearing-in ceremony as chief, when no officer was approved to earn extra time for the hourlong event, Lavoie said.

On Monday, Wilson countered that Breault can vouch for the hours he claimed. On only one occasion did Breault confuse two after-hour events he attended but evidence will show he committed an error and not a criminal act, Wilson said.

Lavoie again will take the stand today, and Wilson, at some point, will cross-examine him.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com