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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nashua mayor says police targeted her, husband in criminal investigation; Telegraph awaits police records

Police investigated Mayor Donnalee Lozeau’s husband, a former bail commissioner, for alleged drug use and bid-rigging in what the mayor says was retaliation over contract negotiations and budget disagreements.

Police began investigating David Lozeau in December 2009 and January 2010, including multiple wiretaps, according to Donnalee Lozeau, and reopened the investigation in 2013 under Chief John Seusing’s leadership. ...

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Police investigated Mayor Donnalee Lozeau’s husband, a former bail commissioner, for alleged drug use and bid-rigging in what the mayor says was retaliation over contract negotiations and budget disagreements.

Police began investigating David Lozeau in December 2009 and January 2010, including multiple wiretaps, according to Donnalee Lozeau, and reopened the investigation in 2013 under Chief John Seusing’s leadership.

A private attorney representing the Lozeaus is reviewing police records that The Telegraph requested five months ago after David Lozeau’s resignation as a bail commissioner for Nashua district court Judge James Leary.

Before the records were released to The Telegraph, Donnalee Lozeau issued a press release accusing the police department of reopening the investigation and targeting her and her husband.

Nashua Police Chief Seusing strongly denied any link between an investigation and disagreements that he or the police unions have had with Donnalee Lozeau.

“Any investigation that was done absolutely had nothing to do with any disagreements that the police department has had with the mayor over any of our budgets or our contracts,” he said. “There is no connection between the two at all.”

Seusing declined to comment on any investigation into either of the Lozeaus and said he would let “the facts speak for themselves” if and when the investigative documents are released.

“Clearly, she’s trying to make a connection between the two, but I’m telling you there is no connection,” Seusing said. “I can’t be any clearer about that statement.”

Donnalee Lozeau said the Nashua Police Department launched a criminal investigation that included 11 wiretaps into her husband and herself after a person her husband was suing made the allegations about “bid-rigging, drug use and misconduct as a bail commissioner.” She said the case was reopened at the height of tension between herself and police over police department contracts.

“Despite these repeated attempts, at no point did my husband implicate himself in any criminal wrongdoing of any kind,” the mayor said.

Contacted months ago, Leary confirmed that David Lozeau had resigned but declined further comment.

On May 16, the paper requested access to any investigate records related David Lozeau kept by the Nashua Police Department, and the request was forwarded to Stephen Bennett, the city’s corporation counsel. On June 26, Laura Spector-Morgan notified the paper that the city had hired her firm, the Mitchell Municipal Group in Laconia, to help review the request.

Since then, the records have been reviewed by Spector-Morgan and then presented to the Police Commission twice, as well as a final review by Seusing and other police administrators.

The city made the determination to release at least some of the documents, Spector-Morgan said, but first agreed to let the Lozeaus’ attorney, Richard Lehmann, review them and perhaps file an injunction on the grounds of invasion of privacy if necessary.

Donnalee Lozeau’s statement was released late Tuesday afternoon after The Telegraph contacted the Lozeaus for comment.

Lozeau said the criminal investigation into her and her husband was reopened at the height of public disagreements between the mayor’s office and Seusing over contracts and the police budget and was an attempt at a smear campaign.

The mayor has criticized the police union’s balking at making contract concessions that she said other city unions have made.

“The subsequent attempt by one or more person in the police department to start a smear campaign based on an unfounded investigation to achieve political goals is shocking and appalling,” Lozeau wrote Tuesday.

Moments after Lozeau sent her statement about the criminal investigation to the press, she announced that she was vetoing a portion of the police supervisor’s contract that was recently passed by a 14-1 vote of the Board of Aldermen.

Donnalee Lozeau said she learned of the 2009-10 investigation a day after her State of the City address this year. She learned – presumably from the investigative documents forwarded to her lawyer – that a person her husband had sued had reported a number of allegations to the police. That person is not named in Lozeau’s statement. It was also clear that police were investigating the mayor herself, according to the mayor’s statement.

The investigation was closed while Donald Conley was still chief of police but reopened in 2013 at “precisely the same time that my very public conflict with Chief Seusing was coming to a head,” Lozeau said.

The content of any of the documents the police generated is still unclear. Lozeau has not been charged with a crime and is facing no formal complaints.

The files have already been reviewed by Spector-Morgan, city attorney Bennett, Police Chief Seusing, the Lozeaus and the Nashua Police Commission.

“The City has made the determination, with our counsel, that certain documents are disclosable; however, the documents raise questions about a potential invasion of privacy,” Spector-Morgan wrote in an email to The Telegraph. “Given that this is a somewhat ‘grey area’ in NH law, the City intends to honor the request from Attorney Lehmann to review these documents to allow him to take action which he may deem appropriate prior to their release if he disagrees with our judgment.”

It remains unclear whether the investigative files will be released or whether the Lozeaus’ attorney will try to block their release. The mayor said in her statement that she looks forward to a “public conversation” about the incidents and said, “The public deserves to know what happened.”

“Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can: I have not engaged in criminal activity of any kind,” Lozeau said Tuesday. “The suggestion that I committed any misconduct of any kind is unfounded, unsubstantiated, and untrue.”

Police Commission Chairman Tom Pappas backed Seusing and the police department as a whole and said he does not believe police would ever launch an investigation prompted by disagreements over the department’s budget or contract negotiations.

“Chief Seusing is a man of integrity and honor. He and the entire police department take their oath very seriously,” Pappas said Tuesday evening after reading the mayor’s statement. “Neither he nor the police department would abuse their position to achieve political ends.”

Pappas said he was aware of an investigation surrounding David Lozeau but declined to comment about any of the specifics.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).