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Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

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

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breault cleared in felony case

NASHUA – Jurors deliberated for about two hours Friday before clearing former Hudson Police Capt. Donald Breault of a felony theft charge.

Hudson Police and the state attorney general’s office had charged that Breault falsely entered work hours into the department’s payroll system in order to inflate his pay and earned vacation time.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi dismissed charges that Breault had tampered with the computer system after Breault and his lawyer, Eric Wilson, of Nashua, showed that Breault was authorized to make entries in the system.

Jurors acquitted Breault on the remaining theft charge.

Breault was fired last year as a result of the allegation by Hudson Police Chief Jason Lavoie, but Wilson said Breault “is in the process of challenging his termination.”

As for the trial, Wilson said, “Don would like to thank the jury for their time and attention to his trial. After nearly 18 months, Don, his wife, Cassandra, and their two daughters will finally get a good night’s rest now that his name has been cleared.

“I was proud to be on his side.”

Prosecutors and Wilson presented hundreds of pages of documents during the trial, and jurors heard eight days of testimony.

Breault was the last witness to testify, and he flatly denied falsifying his hours, saying he merely followed a long-standing practice of entering and altering hours as needed, and noted that the department had no policy governing how hours were supposed to be entered.

“They ruined me, and I’ve done nothing wrong,” Breault said during his testimony, reflecting on the criminal case and his termination after 20 years on the force.

Assistant Attorney General James Vara charged that Breault began fudging his hours out of bitterness after selectmen chose Lavoie over him for the chief’s job, and claimed Breault “used the town as a cash machine.”

Vara and Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Woodcock charged that Breault falsified records on two occasions, in a matter of minutes, accusing him of entering 41.5 hours, for a total of $1,743.

Vara also claimed that Breault changed the overtime of former Police Chief Richard Gendron on three occasions in order to create an alibi for himself. Breault admitted to changing the overtime hours of Gendron and other employees because he said he could see that the time they had claimed in the system was less than what they had worked.

Wilson argued that Lavoie and Gendron conspired to “sink” Breault.

“This is personal,” Wilson told jurors. “This is political.”

Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or