Merrimack woman nabbed again

Local out of custody on PR bail after fourth arrest in a week

Merrimack police photo Ashley Compagna, 34, of 246 Daniel Webster Highway, Room 422, Merrimack

MERRIMACK – Ashley Compagna’s fourth arrest in a week, this time on Saturday for allegedly possessing drugs and stealing merchandise from a retail store, turned out the same way as did her previous three arrests: She was booked at police headquarters and released on personal recognizance bail.

The unusual case of the 34-year-old Compagna, of 246 Daniel Webster Hwy., Apt. 422, is also notable for its timing: Her first arrest, in the wee hours of Sept. 1, came just hours after the state’s Criminal Justice Reform and Economic Fairness Act of 2018 took effect.

The act, signed into law in July by Gov. Chris Sununu, essentially prohibits judges, prosecutors and bail commissioners from setting bail amounts beyond the financial reach of defendants who are arrested for, but not yet convicted of, non-violent, relatively minor crimes.

Thus, the “revolving door” situation that developed for Compagna, beginning with her release shortly after her arrest early Sept. 1 on three felony counts of receiving stolen property.

Merrimack Police Capt. Brian Levesque said Monday that although bail is set by a bail commissioner, not by police, there is some concern among law enforcement personnel that a defendant’s relatively minor crimes could escalate to serious offenses if he or she is freed on personal recognizance bail.

“It’s rather frustrating for us, and I’m sure for the victims … the crimes may not be violent ones, but what concerns us is (if) they turn violent,” Levesque said.

“We do understand bail should be fair, especially for indigent people, but it’s (a problem) when they continue to offend” after being released on bail, he said.

Levesque said while police hope the new legislation doesn’t lead to “revolving door” situations such as Compagna’s, it’s important not to “forget about the victims, about the safety of the community as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the charges filed in Compagna’s first arrest stem from allegations she stole a neighbor’s purse, medication and her German shepherd named “Cody” late the night of Aug. 31.

Just hours after Compagna was released on $5,000 personal recognizance bail, an officer on patrol spotted a “suspicious female subject” leaning into an open window at King Kone, 336 Daniel Webster Hwy.

The officer said in his report he recognized the suspect as Compagna because he was present at her booking several hours earlier.

He charged her with one count each of burglary, attempted theft, criminal mischief and breach of bail conditions.

Compagna ended up in jail overnight on $10,000 cash-only bail, but in court the next day, the judge modified bail to personal recognizance in accordance with the new statute.

By the evening of Sept. 5, Compagna was back in police custody after the neighbor from the earlier alleged thefts called to report Compagna was knocking on her door “and would not leave.”

Officers charged her with one count each of receiving stolen property and illegal possession of a prescription drug, felonies, and one count of breach of bail conditions, a misdemeanor.

As for her newest arrest Saturday, police charged her with theft, a felony, possession of a controlled drug, a felony, and one misdemeanor count each of theft-willful concealment and breach of bail.

Police said officers were called to the Merrimack Premium Outlets Mall at about 11 a.m. Saturday for a reported shoplifter, and identified Compagna as the suspect. She was allegedly “in possession of property that she had not paid for,” police said, and it was determined she allegedly removed price tags from other property as well.

She also had drugs on her, police said; the third charge was another count of breach of bail.

If all of Compagna’s arraignment dates remain as originally scheduled, she is due in Hillsborough County Superior Court-South in Nashua on Sept. 13, 20, 27 and Nov. 8.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.