New Hampshire Rep. Escapes New Charges in Duck Scandal

Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 02:59 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New Hampshire state Rep. David Campbell, who has been under investigation after he ran over and killed five ducks outside a Nashua hotel in December, will not face any new charges, a state attorney general's report says.

But the Democratic lawmaker's attorney wants to know why the state spent so much time and money on the case while 115 murders in New Hampshire are going unsolved, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported Friday.

"This report regarding my client, consumed over a hundred hours of the state's limited investigative resources and thousands of taxpayers' dollars and calls into question the priorities of the Attorney General's Office," Nashua attorney Gerald Prunier said. "[The probe] turned into an exhaustive and unproductive fishing expedition into Mr. Campbell's personal life."

Thursday, the attorney general's office released a 14-page report that said Campbell and former Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas would not face any further charges.

On Dec. 23 last year, Campbell was driving away from the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, where said he had dinner and two alcoholic drinks, when he ran over and killed the ducks, which were a popular feature at the hotel.

According to police documents, Campbell drove the wrong way through a drop-off area, traveling at about 15 miles an hour, when he ran over the flock of ducks, The Boston Globe  reports.

The ducks were there when a van arrived with a Southwest Airlines flight crew, whose driver told police airline crews often save snacks from their flights to feed the birds.

After Campbell ran over the ducks, a Southwest pilot, James Murphy, chased the lawmaker's car and the two had a confrontation. Prunier said Murphy threatened his client, saying he was going to "make you hurt like the ducks."

Murphy said he observed "Campbell's gait and odor of alcohol" and told hotel staff to call the police. Meanwhile, Campbell called his friend Pappas, to come pick him up.

After Pappas came for him, he called the Nashua police department to arrange for Campbell to come in the next day rather than that night.

The lawmaker ended up paying a $620 fine and $75 restitution to the state Fish and Game Department and donated another $695 to New Hampshire Audubon, The Union Leader reports.

However, the attorney general's office had also considered a charge of reckless operation against Campbell and official oppression or hindering apprehension against Pappas, but decided not to charge them.

Prunier insisted his client was not impaired by alcohol, "but that he was very upset about running over the ducks and concerned for his safety that evening."

Associated Attorney General Jane Young said the investigation behind the incident was important to determine "whether a sitting police commissioner who was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the (Executive) Council committed a crime involving their office," and blamed Campbell for making the investigation take longer.

Campbell announced this past week that he is not seeking reelection to the House seat he held for 14 years, but maintains the duck incident is not to blame. But Pappas resigned from the Nashua Police Commission in February and said he deeply regretted his role in the case.

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