Selectmen fed up with slow investigation

Breanna Edelstein, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·2 min read

Apr. 20—SALEM, N.H. — Selectmen want a sit-down meeting with the New Hampshire Attorney General to break the silence surrounding an investigation into retired Deputy police Chief Rob Morin, which was announced more than two years ago.

At a regular public meeting this week, selectmen unanimously agreed that Chairwoman Cathy Stacey will make the request on behalf of the board.

Top state investigators first announced a probe of the Salem Police Department in November 2018, leading to a closer look at four top-ranking officers within several months.

Three have since retired — Morin, Chief Paul Donovan and Capt. Michael Wagner — while Sgt. Michael Verrocchi remains on paid leave pending the outcome of an ongoing criminal case.

Verrocchi, who has maintained his policing certification, is facing charges from 2012 for reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and disobeying police, according to records. Wagner is simultaneously facing seven-year-old tax fraud allegations in federal court.

A statement from the New Hampshire Attorney General in December announced that Donovan was investigated for "official oppression and or/sworn falsification," but cleared of any wrongdoing.

The remaining question mark is in regard to Morin. And selectmen say a conclusion is long overdue.

"This town needs a final answer and we need to move forward," Stacey said at this week's meeting.

Board member James Keller agreed, stating, "I think we are owed answers."

Selectman Bob Bryant pointed out that three years have passed since an audit of the Police Department sparked the investigations and subsequent fallout of police leadership.

According to New Hampshire law, public officials can be criminally charged "at any time when the defendant is in public office or within two years thereafter."

In Morin's case, that deadline is six weeks away; May 31 marks two years since his retirement.

He said in the 28 months since the investigation was announced, no one from the Attorney General's office has contacted him or accepted an invitation from his and his attorney to meet in Concord.

When asked about the status of the case and whether a grand jury has considered charges against Morin, a spokesperson for the state Attorney General said, "the investigation remains ongoing and therefore, we are unable to comment."

Also, "Grand Jury is a closed process and we are unable to discuss those proceedings."