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Saturday, December 1, 2007

[NH] Trooper Conrad called K9's to find wife - Threatened to shoot officers

Trooper jailed after scuffle
New Hampshire Union Leader

A New Hampshire state trooper asked for and received a K-9 search unit and the Troop E commander's assistance in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 23 to track down his wife, whom he believed was out with another man.

Today Trooper 1st Class James A. Conrad, 49, a former Laconia police officer and U.S. Marine who works in the State Police Major Crime Unit, faces a psychological evaluation after allegedly threatening to take Concord police officer Miguel Cebollero's gun and "shoot him and everyone in the room" Wednesday at State Police headquarters in Concord.

Conrad wept and hung his head yesterday as he was arraigned by video link-up from Merrimack County jail in Boscawen on misdemeanor charges of criminal threatening, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He also is accused of harassing and intimidating his wife of 24 years, Laura, in violation of a protective order.

State police were investigating a "non work-related complaint" involving Conrad when Conrad allegedly threatened fellow employees inside state police headquarters at 33 Hazen Drive about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, state police Col. Frederick H. Booth said in a statement.

Conrad also is charged with creating an outburst and struggling with State Police Lt. Mark J. Myrdek, commander of the internal affairs unit, when Myrdek attempted to detain him, complaints allege.

Myrdek said Conrad had been the target of an "ongoing internal investigation" that began in September. He would not comment on the nature of that probe.

But Conrad's domestic violence petition against his wife, filed in Laconia District Court on Oct. 19, reveals details of a police search and chase involving Conrad and several police departments, as well as the state police, on the night of Sept. 23.
A long night

According to court records, Conrad called Laconia police and asked them to conduct a welfare check for Laura Conrad, 45, who had left home driving a vehicle with the license DRAMA-Q.

The vehicle was located by Meredith police at the Inter-Lakes Elementary School about 12:22 a.m., six hours after Conrad said he had last had contact with his wife.

Not long after the vehicle was found, Meredith Police pursued a silver SUV bearing registration CSI-76 passing cars at a high rate of speed. The driver of the SUV refused to stop for Meredith police, who pursued with lights flashing and sirens wailing.

Meredith Officer Daniel D. Wood wrote that he helped in the pursuit, which ended with the SUV stopped at an angle next to the car with DRAMA-Q plates at the school.

"As I exited my police cruiser I saw a male subject screaming at (another Meredith officer) 'I am a f------ state trooper, this is my wife's car,'" He identified himself as Trooper Conrad.

Wood wrote: "I told him that he put other lives at stake when a police cruiser is behind him with lights and sirens on and he was refusing to stop."

When asked for the name of his state police supervisor, Conrad refused to answer.

Wood said Conrad appeared to have a police-style portable radio in the SUV. Conrad said he had contacted Troop E and said he wanted a police dog unit to search the area.

The Meredith officer said he received a call from dispatch that Lt. Harry Nedeau, commander at State Police Troop E in Ossipee, wanted Wood to call him at his residence.

"I then called Lt. Nedeau at home and relayed to him everything that had happened. He stated that he will call and see if there is a K-9 available from Troop D," Wood wrote.

At about 2:30 a.m., Lt. Nedeau arrived at the elementary school along with a K-9 handler Trooper Greg Delucca and Trooper Stacy Edmunds.

The document stated police received permission from Conrad to enter the locked vehicle and did so forcibly, but without damaging the car.

The report states that the dog could not find a scent in the woods and it was determined Laura Conrad had left the parking spot in another vehicle.

The vehicle was ordered towed to the Conrad home in Laconia, at the authorization of Lt. Nedeau, the report read.

Afterward, Wood said, Conrad came up to him and Meredith Patrolman Richard M. Brewer to apologize.

"He explained to us that he thinks that his wife is seeing another man, and that his head is not in the right place. During my entire contact with J. Conrad, he made several comments about his 'head not being in the game.'"

"I recommend this case be suspended as the incident is under investigation by the New Hampshire State Police," Wood wrote.
Restraining order

Laura Conrad filed for divorce on Oct. 9.

According to a filing by her attorney, Benette Pizzimenti, Laura Conrad left the couple's Laconia home on Sept. 24 fearing for her safety, She has since received temporary orders which give her the house, primary custody of the children and alimony.

On Oct. 19, James Conrad filed for a restraining order, claiming his wife attacked him.

"She is emotionally unstable and has abandoned our children on several occasions," he wrote. The couple have a daughter, 17, and a son, 14.

James Conrad claimed that his wife spent a night in September with another man and abandoned her children and "became emotionally and physically out of control when I found text messages from this other male. She continually struck me and jumped on my back scratching my right wrist and bicep" on Sept. 24.

Marital Master Michael H. Gardner ruled that James Conrad failed to establish that his wife's behavior caused him credibly to fear for his own safety and dismissed his petition for a restraining order.

On Nov. 8, Conrad was barred from contacting his wife under a restraining order contained in a temporary divorce decree issued by Laconia Family Court.

During Wednesday's incident at state police headquarters in Concord, Conrad allegedly placed a telephone call to his wife telling her, "I hate you, you ruined my life ... you had to call, you ruined my life," a court complaint alleges.
Bail set

Yesterday, Conrad was ordered held on $60,000 cash bail at his arraignment in Concord District Court.

Concord city prosecutor Tracy Connolly sought to have Conrad detained on $200,000 cash bail, noting the state's concerns for public safety and Conrad's personal safety.

The court granted her request to seal the police affidavit in support of the arrest warrants, citing the "ongoing investigation."

Judge Gerard J. Boyle set bail at $60,000 cash with the proviso that bail could be converted to $60,000 personal recognizance if Conrad is admitted to the secure psychiatric unit at New Hampshire State Hospital in Concord. Bail would revert to $60,000 cash should Conrad leave the hospital for any reason, Boyle said.

The judge also barred Conrad from going to state police headquarters at Hazen Drive unless ordered to do so by a supervisor. He also forbid Conrad to have any contact with his wife and children until further order.

Conrad's attorney, Eric Wilson of Nashua, appeared to indicate Conrad would agree to the psychological evaluation.

Concord prosecutor Connolly said authorities were trying to locate guns she said Conrad hid in two locations.

"We know there are weapons. We just don't know where they are," she said.

Wilson said his client does not object to helping authorities locate the weapons and turning them over to police.

Myrdek said Conrad's status within the state police remains under investigation.

"We're pursuing the internal administrative options," Myrdek explained.

"We need to make sure we do it right and we get all the answers before we make any decisions," he added.

Booth said state police are pursuing the case "internally as a personnel matter" with the state Division of Personnel.

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