Attorney General Michael A. Delaney announces that an investigation into criminal conduct by members of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, in regard to the release of an annulled record of arrest or conviction, has been completed. During the course of the investigation, sufficient evidence was ascertained that Sheriff James Daniel Linehan and Major Mark Peirce violated RSA 651:5, XII. Under RSA 651:5, XII, it is a misdemeanor to disclose or communicate the existence of a person’s record of arrest or conviction if the record or conviction had been annulled.
The investigation revealed that an annulled record of arrest and conviction of David Lovejoy was disclosed or communicated to a member of the media. Mr. Lovejoy, at the time that the disclosure was made, was Linehan’s opponent in the general election for the office of the Rockingham County Sheriff. The investigation further revealed that Major Peirce disclosed or communicated the annulled information to a member of his staff and directed that staff member to provide the information to Electra Alessio, a reporter for the Carriage Towne News. The annulled information was further disclosed to at least another reporter. Karen Dandurant authored an article published in the Portsmouth Herald on October 27, 2008. That article referenced a case and a 1989 conviction, involving Lovejoy, which had been annulled. The investigation also revealed that it was Sheriff Linehan’s intent and request that the annulled information be disclosed or communicated to Ms. Alessio.
The Attorney General has reached a negotiated disposition with Linehan and Peirce regarding their unlawful conduct. In return for their immediate resignations, the Attorney General has agreed not to institute criminal charges against either man. Linehan has also agreed that he will not seek the position of sheriff or a law enforcement officer in any county in the State of New Hampshire at any future time. Linehan relinquished his certification as a police officer on November 23, 2009. Peirce has also relinquished his certification as a police officer by the New Hampshire Police Standards & Training Council.
Attorney General Delaney stated, “This type of criminal behavior will not be condoned, especially by those members of society who are sworn to uphold the law. While I am confident that misdemeanor convictions would have been obtained, today’s agreement ensures that Mr. Linehan and Mr. Peirce will immediately be removed from the highest levels of Rockingham County law enforcement and they will never again serve as members of New Hampshire’s law enforcement community. I believe that this agreement is an appropriate disposition of this case.”