School bus driver accused of stalking Greenland child faces trial. He pleads not guilty.
GREENLAND — A trial date has been set in the case of the ex-school bus driver currently detained on federal charges he stalked and threatened an 8-year-old Greenland child on his bus route.
Michael Chick, an Eliot, Maine, resident formerly employed by First Student, is tentatively scheduled to stand trial on a federal interstate charge beginning March 21 at 9:30 a.m. in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire in Concord. He waived arraignment and pleaded not guilty on Sept. 21, according to court records.
Chick, whose case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Greenland Police Department, was arrested in early August following a warranted search of his residence. He was subsequently denied bail, then in September, New Hampshire U.S. Attorney Jane Young announced a federal grand jury indicted him for a single charge of cyberstalking.
U.S. District of New Hampshire Chief Judge Landya McCafferty will preside over Chick’s trial. Jurors will not be selected until the first day of Chick’s trial, according to Mary Ellen McMahon, spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in New Hampshire.
The trial was initially scheduled in January. The defendant pushed for the court to extend it for another 60 days.
“The government provided initial discovery on September 26, 2022, and additional discovery on or about October 26, 2022,” Chick’s request to continue the trial reads. It was granted. “Defense counsel has been making steady progress performing various necessary tasks in this case, but needs additional time for further preparation and consultation.”
What is Michael Chick accused of doing?
The parents of the Greenland child became suspicious of the bus driver and first reported him to the Greenland school district and town police in April, court records show. Chick allegedly gave the child and his sister gifts on the bus on numerous occasions, which included candy, Pokémon paraphernalia, and other small toys, according to a police affidavit.
“Additionally, when the children were absent from school, (Chick) would leave letters for them at the residence saying how much he misses them,” the affidavit reads.
In May, Chick allegedly asked the child’s family if he could attend the child’s Little League baseball game. The child’s family, according to the affidavit, contacted the Greenland Central School asking for assistance, and school administration contacted First Student to have Chick reassigned to a different bus route.
Police, including the school resource officer, spoke with Chick in May and told him that he could no longer contact the child, nor his family.
Chick was reassigned bus routes that month but continued communicating with the child even afterward, including calling the child over to his bus, court records state.
The child’s family reported Chick to police twice last spring. They did so again in July upon finding two TracFones inside the child’s lunchbox. Authorities were told by the parents the child told them the devices were gifts from Chick.
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Chick allegedly gave the child multiple TracFones and instructed him to take inappropriate photographs of himself. The former bus driver is also accused of placing GPS tracking devices on the child’s parents’ vehicles to track whether they reported him to police and making several visits to the family's home at night.
Chick is accused of following the child and his family around Greenland and nearby communities, taking "surreptitious photographs and videos" in "public places, including retail stores and a water park.”
The child’s parents “were very concerned for their son’s safety as well as their own, verbalizing that they were afraid that Chick would come to their home and kidnap” the child, court documents state.
Chick allegedly told child about group of threatening criminals
The child reported to investigators Chick told him a story about “The Team,” a group of criminals that would kidnap and torture the child if he didn’t comply with the instructions to photograph and take videos of himself. The child additionally told authorities that he was told that “The Team” would kill his family if he didn’t comply.
“The Team,” the child later told his parents, was a group of anywhere between eight and 800 people, the affidavit states.
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On or about June 1, Chick gave the child a computer-generated note and told him to read it. The threatening note, supposedly written by “The Team,” was written in capital letters, according to the court, and read: “You had too many chances this is not working we are done (expletive) around make this happen now or the kid disappears.”
Chick later admitted to investigators that he threatened the child on the bus and gave him three separate TracFones, according to court documents. Authorities searched his car and found his cell phone, a TracFone, a digital camera, duct tape, rubber gloves, candy, children’s undergarments and toys, and a magnetic GPS vehicle tracker.
Authorities claimed that surveillance cameras, TracFones, large plastic bags of children’s underwear and more evidence were found at Chick’s residence.
Child's family: Chick is 'predator of the worst kind'
At Chick’s bail hearing in mid-August, where federal public defender Behzad Mirhashem lost his bid for home incarceration for Chick, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kasey Weiland, the prosecutor in the case, read a prepared statement from the family of the child allegedly targeted by Chick.
Though not present at the hearing, the family at the center of allegations against Chick wrote they would “forever be scarred by this man’s actions” and felt “sick with worry” the ex-bus driver could contact the child again in the future.
“He is a predator of the worst kind,” the family wrote. “Protect us and protect the public by keeping him out of society.”
In the wake of Chick’s arrest, Homeland Security Investigations created a hotline for anyone with information about the investigation into the former bus driver. The number for the tipline is (603) 722-1751.
Mirhashem could not be reached for comment.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: NH school bus driver Michael Chick faces trial for stalking child