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Nashua PD reported issues with CA Conlon

MANCHESTER – Despite having no law enforcement or prosecutorial experience whatsoever, Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Conlon rode the Democratic “blue wave” of 2018 to narrowly oust Republican incumbent Dennis Hogan.

Ten months later, Republican New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald has taken control of Conlon’s office, citing “systemic failures in the leadership of the prosecutorial function.”

The upheaval, which stemmed from public allegations by Manchester police that Conlon created an irreparable breakdown in communication with county law enforcement agencies, also caused problems in Nashua, according to Gate City Police Chief Michael Carignan.

Conlon, who was the subject of an hours-long meeting Tuesday at the County’s Temple Street office in Nashua, has been under attack for more than a week over accusations his office bungled at least two cases that police and MacDonald said were settled without any input from police.

MacDonald, on Friday, notified Conlon in a letter that he was taking over the County Attorney’s office and planned to name former Manchester Police Chief David Mara responsible for overseeing the County Attorney’s office for the time being.

Until that move takes effect, MacDonald appointed Deputy Attorney General Jane Young, Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati and Assistant Attorney General Erin Fitzgerald to run Conlon’s office.

In Nashua, meanwhile, Carignan said the department is dealing with similar frustrations.

“We’ve been struggling to communicate with them, but there’s been a lack of progress, a lack of cooperation,” Carignan said, referring to Conlon’s office.

One of the problems Carignan sees isn’t a new one: The lack of adequate staffing.

“The (assistant) County Attorneys have more work than they can handle. They’re understaffed over there … they need more people,” he said.

That’s one of “a number of things I think may have contributed” to the uproar and MacDonald’s actions, Carignan added, citing also Conlon’s “lack of law enforcement experience and prosecutorial experience.”

Indeed, it was noted after Conlon’s narrow victory over Hogan that Conlon won the seat despite having no previous experience in either area.

Although Nashua officials “have been striving for effective communication … trying over a period of time to work things out,” Carignan said their efforts always “seemed to break down.”

As for Tuesday’s meetings in Nashua, First Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith, who chiefly works from Hillsborough County Superior Court-South in Nashua, said he expected the series of meetings to run throughout the day.

It wasn’t immediately known what was decided at the meetings, or if some type of restructuring may occur.

Attempts on Tuesday to reach Conlon’s office were unsuccessful. It’s not clear whether Conlon is still working out of the office as MacDonald, Young, Agati and Fitzgerald settle in, or if he has departed.

However, on Friday, Conlon told The Telegraph, “I will continue my job, chosen by the voters of Hillsborough County, to advocate for them and give them support and guidance so we can do our best to get the job done.”

“I welcome any and all resources and suggestions the AG can make available for our office,” Conlon added on Friday.

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