"City clerk put on unpaid leave"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, October 22, 2008
MANCHESTER – City Clerk Carol Johnson will keep her title but will not collect a paycheck as she faces prosecution on two counts of "abuse of office."
Aldermen last night voted, 10-4, to place Johnson on unpaid administrative leave.
Johnson has not been in her office since late June. She continues to face allegations that she failed to respond appropriately after a member of her family who was working in the office admitted he stole $90 in cash from a city account.
Johnson watched the televised meeting from home last night. She declined to comment when reached by phone.
The board's decision was less severe than other courses of action under consideration. Going into the meeting, several board members said they thought the clerk's employment should be terminated.
"I am uncomfortable having her stay on in a paid capacity now that an indictment has come down," Alderman Peter Sullivan said earlier that evening. "That changes the game."
Last night's vote came after board members spent nearly an hour in closed-door discussions with legal counsel. The board did not specify how long Johnson would remain on leave.
The only comment during public session came from Alderman Ed Osborne, who opposed the motion.
"I think we should at least wait for the arraignment," he said before casting his vote.
Board members who voted to place Johnson on unpaid leave were Mark Roy, Ted Gatsas, Sullivan, Jim Roy, Real Pinard, Bill Shea, Mike Garrity, Russ Ouellette, Kelleigh Domaingue Murphy and Dan O'Neil.
Those who opposed it were Osborne, Betsi DeVries, George Smith and Mike Lopez.
Johnson, 55, was pulling down $95,000 a year as city clerk. She had been on paid administrative leave since the end of June.
In that time, she earned roughly $30,000.
Heading into last night's meeting, one alderman, Real Pinard, questioned the logic of keeping Johnson on the city payroll much longer.
"With the economic crunch," he said, "people are starting to say, 'Why should we continue to pay her for doing nothing?'"
Johnson was recently indicted on two misdemeanor counts of "abuse of office."
One indictment alleges she knowingly failed to do her job when she did not immediately fire her nephew, Shawn Hanagan. The other faults her for allowing Hanagan to continue processing payments.
Hanagan, 31, is awaiting trial on three counts of theft by unauthorized taking.
Johnson has previously said she barred Hanagan from handling cash after he admitted to the thefts. She said she told him his employment would be terminated in 30 days.
In an interview yesterday afternoon, Mayor Frank Guinta said he believes the board should fire Johnson. The mayor noted he does not have the authority to do that himself.
"I think it's in the best interest of the city for the aldermen to act swiftly and put this issue behind us," Guinta said.
Johnson has worked for the city for more than three decades. She was promoted to city clerk last November.
That was an intelligent decision on the part of the majority of the Board. I can't say the same for Kangaroo Court Frank Guinta and Mike Garrity, I guess if they had their way this country should be able to convict and condemn without the benefit of a trial. The people of Ward 9 have elected a Junior Fidel for an Alderman and we have the same in Frank Guinta. When these took the oath of office they promised to abide by the Constitution of the United States of America not the United State of Guinta Garrity. Maybe they both need to get jobs with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela with their Banana Republic Mentality.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
I myself, am very unhappy the way Sen. Devries handled herself, both times, the spending cap question and now this. Then my alderman chimes in and votes the same way?? Why was he re-elected in the first place? Oh, wait, he once was quoted in saying "I can live a 4% to 5% tax increase". How about those people you represent?? How about their taxes?? Does he think they can live an increase? I guess he thought so because he voted with Alderwoman Devries for the latest 3.5% tax increase in Manchester. Next year's city elections are going to be interesting...Maybe people can get out and vote to not have Sen. Devries return to Concord, that would be a good start to start. Side note, Devries also opposes the Corcoran Recycling Plant, which means she opposes new jobs in Manchester and a revenue income to help offset the taxes in next years budget. Tax and Spenders have to go. It's our government, it's about time we fight to get it back.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
Can we just fire her & get this over with please? It's costing the tax payers tons of money over a lousy $90!!!! She was stupid enough not do anything in the first place. You steel and get caught - out you go. You cover it up then you're just as guilty!
- LR, Hooksett
Great news for the 'peasants'.
Why am I not surprised that Mike "Lefty" Lopez voted to keep Ms. Johnson feeding at the taxpayers teet?
While this one act may not lower the tax rate, it does free up money that can go towards heading off future tax increases.
Unless, of course, Lefty Lopez and His Marauders get their way.
- Michael Paradis, Manchester
When you cover up theft, lie to the mayor, lie to the aldermen, compassion is hard to find.
- Ben, Manchester
Betsi DeVries, Mike Lopez and George Smith continue to make decisions that stick it to the taxpayers of Manchester!
First by being part of the Gang of Eight who thought the voters in Manchester weren't smart enough to vote on whether or not they want to limit city spending or not....
And now by voting to continue paying Carol Johnson her $95,000 a year plus benefits job after she admittedly kept her nephew employed after he was caught stealing from the taxpayers.
If the Democrats gave Betsi the Kathy Sullivan Award last week for opposing the spending cap, what award will they give her this week?
- Tammy Simmons, West Manchester
This woman is an absolute joke. While she was on paid leave making her $30k, others employees were doing her job. So it appears that her position doesn't need someone full-time to warrant the absurd $95k salary for a city clerk.
- Jane, Concord
I don't understand how someone can be so easily dismissed after 3 decades of dedicated service. I presume dedication based on her longevity and recent promotion. To discredit and disregard her loyal years of service due to a lapse in judgement is far more concerning then the actual theft of the $90.00.
Where's the compassion?
- Michael Spylios, Nashua, New Hampshire
Laura, in Washington, do tell!!! How was she not truthful and used bad judgement? Do dish, girlfriend. This is the type of information that should be shared on blogs. Manchester tends to keep things hidden and not share!
- Liz, Manchester, NH
Stupid question but for all of you people who think you just wno some sort of "battle" against city hall, does her being placed on unpaid leave lower your taxes at all? Guess what, No it does not I am still paying the same amount, so who really won here?
- Eric, Manchester, NH
Osborne, Betsi DeVries, George Smith and Mike Lopez are an embarrassment. Only in Hackville is it tolerable to pay someone that admitted she covered up stealing.
- mike conway, manchester
For those of you who continue to call this some sort of vendetta on behalf of the Mayor -
1. Frank Guinta did not knowingly cover up a theft in the City Clerk's office - Carol did.
2. Frank Guinta did not allow an individual who stole from the citizens of Manchester (by way of the clerk's office) to continue working there - Carol did.
You can't dispute these facts. This is not a witch hunt. Carol Johnson was wrong in her actions. She has cast a pall on the City Clerk's office. On top of that, she has made a pretty penny off the taxpayers over the past few months for doing nothing (bet she got a pretty good tan this summer. . .since she made over $20K on her paid leave).
I personally am appalled that she is still on the books as a city employee and I applaud the Mayor and Alderman who chose to make her leave unpaid from here on out. . .now, hopefully, they will make it permanent as well.
There are honest, hardworking people losing their homes and jobs because of the economy and, I can only imagine, how they must feel when reading these stories!
Did Carol do something almost everybody soes in their lifetime - make an error in judgement? Yes, she did. The thing is, here error in judgement was against the law. . .plain and simple.
Enough with the vendettas and the witch hunts. . .our city government has no power over the grand jury that brought an indictment down on her.
- kay, manchester, nh
$95k a year for a city clerk? doesnt that seem absurd to any one else?
- Matt S, Bedford NH
It's about time!! This has been a long time coming as far as I'm concerned. Lets see how long it takes the city to fire her now. At this point could anyone trust her to return to her position as City Clerk, or any position within the city for that matter?? The City Clerk's office has been running just fine without her from the sounds of it. Matt Normand, and the rest of the staff, seems to have picked up the mess she left behind, and then some. Maybe the public should be take a little of their focus off of all of the curruption and focus on the good, hardworking employees of the City Clerk's office. Kudos to them for keeping their heads above water through all of this.
- Elizabeth, Manchester
The thing is... the city could have completed its own investigation within the first 30 days and taken whatever action against Ms. Johnson that it saw fit. There was no need to wait for the State's investigation to be completed. In the past Ms Johnson publicly chastised Mayor Guinta. It is my opinion that Mayor Guinta took great offense at being taken to task, and that the State's criminal charges against Ms. Johnson were his end-game. The Mayor and the Board of Alderman have caused the residents of Manchester to expend a great deal of tax dollars over 3+ months for a problem in the Clerks Office that they did not want to address themselves.
I read in the Union Leader that a routine task for the Assessors Office is for one of its staff to go over to the Clerk's Office to pick up some newspaper/newsletter and bring it back to the Assessor's Office. It said that after someone from the Assessors Office went over to the Clerks Office to get the newspaper, they took a peek into an open office out of curiosity and were subsequently arrested because they are Ms. Johnson's sister. This suggests to me that there is campaign within the city and some of its employees to actively discredit Ms. Johnson and her reputation - to the point where causing collateral damage is deemed acceptable.
In my opinion the failure of the BMA to take any action is a greater indictment of how badly the City of Manchester is run than that of the City Clerk giving an employee a 30-day notice instead of immediate dismissal for theft of funds.
The residents of Manchester cannot afford to have a mayor and board of alderman that allows what appears to be vengeful actions among its employees. We can't afford the lawsuit. Look at what it did to Hooksett.
- David R, Manchester
Rather than fire her, or put her on unpaid leave; make her drive a school bus for the city of Manchester, route #3. It will take her lawyers a few months to get the NH supreme court to declare this "Cruel and Unusual" punishment. But I guarantee one thing, when she gets back to the city clerk's office, if she does, she will be the best employee in the history of that department.
- tom, manchester,nh
Carol should not have been promoted to city clerk in the first place. This is not the first time in her career that she has used bad judgment or blatantly lied. The alderman should have realized when she wasn't truthful on her resume that she was bad choice for a position that requires integrity and honesty. It is time to terminate Carol and find a qualified candidate for Manchester city clerk.
- Laura, Washington, DC
Maybe the Democrat Party can give Betsi an award for standing behind the recently indicted Johnson. Heck they gave her one for keeping the taxpayers from voting for a spending cap.
- Michael Biundo, Manchester Ward 8
Liz: Yes, you should have listened to your dad and got a city job. Having a city job means you can do what you please and if a mistake is made, still get paid for it.
Just try that in a regular non government job!
- Riley Q., Manchester
So did Alderman George Smith vote for it or against it. A perfect politician....according to the UL, he's having it both ways! LOL
(Editor's Note: The story has been corrected. George Smith voted no.)
- Francais Greene, Plymouth, NH
Unpaid leave! I'm happy to hear that she isn't continuing to draw on tax payer money after letting a family member get away with stealing money from taxpayers!
- Jay, Manchester
Ah Ha! Home watching TV while getting her pay! It had to be the truth, it was printed in the UL.
Oh well, Carol's time has come. She made her mistake and now will suffer.
Good Bye Carol.
- Beth Stern, Manchester, NH
$30,000 for stayiing home? I should have listened to my dad when he told me to get a city job.
- Liz, Manchester, NH
If I were an alderman, I wouldn't be calling for heads to roll over a managerial disagreement on the handling of a problem employee. I wouldn't even necessarily be calling for heads to roll over the theft of $90 from the city coffers. Far more troublesome, to me, is the fact that no one apparently raised an eyebrow, before now, that a city employee was possibly hired by, or at least at some point began reporting to, his own aunt. I don't think it's her failure to fire him that is costing the city credibility in this case... it's the people who looked the other way when he was hired or she became his supervisor in the first place.
- C. Caruso, Lakewood, WA (formerly of Manchester NH)
I'm almost surprised in the list of names that voted against putting Johnson on unpaid leave (sarcasm). Every single one of them cares more about their party than they do Manchester, so once again, they supported Johnson, a Democrat, rather than voting to save the Manchester taxpayer. Good job Lopez and DeVries in trying to take more taxpayer money to benefit a party rather than the city itself.
Also, on a side note, the article says that George Smith both voted for and against the proposal. Judging on his history, I'm going to say that he was in lock step by blindly voting with Lopez and DeVries, but I just wanted to clarify because the article lists him as voting for and against it.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, New Hampshire
"Indictments: City clerk abused office"
By DAN TUOHY, New Hampshire Union Leader, Tuesday, October 21, 2008
MANCHESTER – A grand jury has indicted City Clerk Carol A. Johnson on two counts of "abuse of office" for failing to immediately fire her nephew upon learning he stole $90 in cash from the city.
The charges have prompted one alderman to call for Johnson, who has been on paid administrative leave since June, to resign from her $95,000-a-year job.
"Carol needs to step down," said Alderman Michael Garrity. "It's important that public trust be restored to city government. It's my belief that she cannot continue to be a paid officer for the city."
Garrity said the board will discuss the charges and Johnson's employment status at its meeting tonight. Mayor Frank Guinta urged aldermen to act swiftly to protect the image of the city and the clerk's office. Guinta stressed he has no say over the clerk's job, which is filled by aldermen.
"I would hope they would do the right thing or Carol would do the right thing and step down," Guinta said.
Other aldermen, however, said Johnson deserves her day in court.
In an interview yesterday at her lawyer's office, Johnson said she did nothing she thought was dishonest. Johnson had told her nephew, Shawn Hanagan, 31, that he was going to be fired from his license enforcement inspector job in 30 days, she said. That was to give her time to find a replacement in her understaffed office, she said.
"Knowing what I know today, I would've fired him and asked for an emergency board meeting (to request additional staff)," she said.
A Hillsborough County Superior Court grand jury issued the indictments. The two charges allege that Johnson committed the crime of "official oppression," a misdemeanor subject to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
One charge says Johnson knowingly refrained from doing her job by failing to immediately fire Hanagan. The second charge says she knowingly refrained from performing her duty when she allowed Hanagan to continue receiving payments on behalf of the city and failed to ensure that no additional money was stolen. The permits in question were fire alarm fees at $30 each.
Hanagan faces a trial on three misdemeanor charges of theft by unauthorized taking.
Johnson, 55, of 433 Youville St., said she was surprised by the charges.
"It's horrible," she said at her lawyer's office yesterday. "I'm just still in shock."
David L. Nixon and Clifford J. Ross, attorneys representing Johnson, said yesterday the charges did not remotely fit the case, nor match the unblemished record of the 32-year city employee.
"It's extreme," said Ross, a former Manchester city solicitor.
Nixon said Johnson's actions were focused on preserving the integrity of an understaffed city clerk's office. He said the clerk took steps so that her nephew would not have access to cash payments.
Johnson, who was promoted to city clerk in November 2007, said she interpreted the events more as a personnel issue. At the time, Johnson thought the actions she took were in the best interests of the clerk's office and the city.
"In my lifetime with the city, I did everything I could to display honesty and professionalism in anything I did," she said.
Alderman at-large Daniel O'Neil said Johnson should have her day in court, and a change in Johnson's employment status was not yet warranted.
"You're innocent until proven guilty in this country," O'Neil said. "I'm obviously very concerned about it; I'm concerned she was indicted. I didn't contemplate that as one of the possibilities."
New Hampshire Union Leader reporters Mark Hayward and Benjamin Kepple contributed to this article.
Corey from Manchester,
When your boss pays your salary, you become accountable to him. He expects you to perform your job well and to the best of your ability. I would guess that if he found out that you helped your friend steal from him, he wouldn't be too happy.
The definition of a "public servant" is someone who is paid by the public's tax dollars to perform a duty. We pay her salary so we ("the public") are her employer. She is accountable to the City of Manchester. She permitted a family member to steal from us and tried to cover it up. She even let him stay in a position where he was in charge of our money for weeks after he admitted to stealing tax dollars. I would say that exhibits poor judgement and warrants termination.
- Greg Holbrock, Manchester, NH
Corey D i totally agree
The MAYOR 'forgets' to pay his taxes for 18 months and that's not a big deal. A city employee makes a bad judgement and she's on the front page.
- jimmy, manchester
I would just like to say to everyone who posts her "as a Taxpayer" Congratulations, like you have a choice in the matter. Get off of your high horses, I pay taxes and guess what I could care less about this whole situation. So what she is on paid leave, bug deal, does this personally affect you on your day to day routine's? I dont think so, and if any one says it does you are not being truthful. Yeah we pay her salary, but my boss pays mine, this is no big deal, and Tammy this has nothing to do with the alderman give the spending cap talk a rest.
- Cory, Manchester, NH
All these comments are very interesting, but is everyone forgetting she is ON PROBATION and that means they can let her go for just cause or they don't really need a reason. The easiest way out is to tell her sorry, you didn't pass your probation. If this is not just cause then what is. We now have the results of the audit report how she allowed him to stay in the same position even though she said she didn't (and what about the other $6,000 that is missing) besides her now being indicted. I believe your innocent until proven guilty, but for a grand jury to feel that these charges could be brought against is something else. I have heard Carol tell people how Guinta supported her and now she is saying he is out to get her. Guinta has not done anything wrong. She did not uphold the oath of office she took when she became City Clerk and its really sad, but this needs to come to a close. She either needs to resign or the Board of Aldermen need to let her go so that Manchester can start healing again.
T. West, Manchester
- Tracy West, Manchester, NH
Reading these comments daily gets so ridiculous. Everyone on their soapbox and even at times making things up to prove a point that has nothing to do with the article.
Johnson made a mistake by covering a ninety dollar theft and her nephew should have been fired for it. She should have been reprimanded - no money wasted in what has become a ridiculous situation.
I pay taxes but don't feel like I personally have the right to criticize every single city worker that has made a mistake. It appears that this situation has been as blown out of proportion as the mayor failing to pay his taxes for eighteen months to the tune of thousands of dollars. Well, I guess that was a little different as he hasn't even lived in Manchester for very long and apparently has no ties to speak of other than the republican party.
- corey d., manchester, nh
Carol needs to resign her position. As you can see the department is being run just fine without her. I have never seen so many options for people to register to vote! This is a great sign of a big turnout for our election day. And no thanks to Carol. She's home watching TV and getting paid for it.
She's as guilty as her nephew. Pay it back!
- Wendy T.R., Manchester NH
Hey Fred, if you really want to put more money towards Johnson's salary, how about you fork over $90,000 because I sure as heck don't want a dime of my taxes going towards her pay check!
- James Price, Manchester, New Hampshire
Greg of Manchester: of course your extra fee for the Dog registration was going to Carol's salary! Thank you for your contribution!
Tammy: Get off your soap box! Leave the current aldermen alone!
- Fred Norris, Manchester, NH
For me, a more important question is: How did her nephew get the city hall job?
- hng, Nashua
Carol is only entitled to a presumption of innocence in a court of law - her employer is not bound by it.
let me guess Porter, if Stix Addison was out on parole his employer should retain him because he is presumed innocent in a court of law?
- mike conway, manchester
I say fire her. Let her bring the city to court to prove city's guilt for "wrongful termination". How does she "own" her job again?
- Zizzy, Manchester
This is the same department that chased me down for a measly $15 dog registration fee. I forgot about it and was a few days late and they jacked the fee up to $60. For what? To pay Carol A. Johnson while she sits at home collecting her $95,000 annual salary? This is a disgrace and people should be outraged. If someone is caught stealing, you fire them. Plain and simple. You work shorthanded for 30 days until you can hire a replacement. You definitely don't keep a thief in charge of taxpayer money. It is apparent that Ms. Johnson was trying to cover up for herself and her nephew.
- Greg Holbrock, Manchester, NH
You speak of city employees who were caught stealing, Johnson did NOT steal, and for the record I am not defending anyone. What I am saying is that the comments that Mr Guinta has made and is making are not that of a professional mayor.
Also, Johnson is not guilty of anything, the indictment means that the prosecution 'thinks' they have enough evidence to bring this case to a court room--it is there that a verdict may come out, if she is guilty... it would NOT be due to stealing funds but rather "looking away" from an incident that she should have reported... but then again, I believe she did tell someone, but nothing was done.
- Brian F, Manchester
To those who seem to be trying to make Guinta look like the bad guy here, all he is quoting as saying is ""I would hope they would do the right thing or Carol would do the right thing and step down." That is hardly vindictive. I, as a taxpayer in Manchester, appreciate that the mayor is looking out for may tax dollars first and foremost.
- Riley, Manchester
If Bozo the Clown and Benito Mussolini were city employees, Mike Porter would be right there defending them.
- Jack, Manchester
Let us not rush to judgement, and indictment is not a conviction and I think that we still operate under the system of laws that includes a presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a jury of peers.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
To Brian F in Manchester.... you should look at what has happened to some of the other city employees that have been caught steeling. There were two transfer station employees this year fired on the spot after finding that theft was going on. They were not paid until proven guilty. That is not the only example of city employees that have been caught and the past shows that the city has almost always fired them on the spot so why should Mrs Johnson be any different? That is what i think the Mayor is trying to say to the taxpayers of this fine city.
- Karen F, Manchester
The mayor's comments are absolutely shameful. I guess he doesn't possess the kind of temperment necessary for an executive level position. I believe he should step-down. Aren't all citizens due their day in court, regardless of their employer?
Since Frank is pre-disposed to make statements such as these, perhaps he'd like to enlighten the public why he's allowed the city to spend tens of thousands on an investigation for a $90 theft? It doesn't take a superior intelligence to realize that someone's got an agenda here ...
- M Stricklen, Manchester
I dont live in Manchester, but have been outraged by this story. Lord knows our taxes are high enough in this state, but to keep on paying this woman is a slap in the face to the taxpayers of Manchester.
If she worked in the 'dreaded private sector' like a lot of us, she would have been fired immediately.
How can I apply for this $95,000 a year hack job with all the benefits and vacation time??
- Betsy, Kingston
Guinta and his comments are amazing... I think he should keep them to himself, it isn't making him look good, it is one thing to bring charges if he thinks a crime was committed but the way he comments about her you would almost think this is vindictive.
- Brian F, Manchester
While it is understandable that people would call for Ms. Johnsons resignation people need to take a step back and understand that an indictment is only a formal way of bringing the charge forward in the courts. Ms. Johnson, like any other citizen, is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.
- Mike Porter, Manchester
I simply just don't understand Ms. Johnson's defense...she was understaffed so she willingly kept someone that admittedly stole money on the City's payroll, who just so happened to be her nephew....uhm OK. This would never go on in the private sector! She should be ashamed of herself and instead of fighting her unethical decision, she should willfully resign. I wonder if Dan O'Neil is suggesting she be paid admin. leave until her trial...I suppose he is, since he apparently supports her wrongdoings!
- RBL, Manchester
The same aldermen who think the taxpayers should continue to pay Carol Johnson her $95,000 a year salary - undoubtedly with insurance benefits and accruing additional vacation time and increasing her retirement - also thought the voters in this city were too stupid to vote on the spending cap in 60 days time.
Do the voters in this city see a pattern here? There are those who seem more concerned about protecting city workers and growing the size of city government more so that looking out for the taxpayers of Manchester.
Just this week, Betsi DeVries accepted an award from the Democrat Party - given to her because she opposed the spending cap.
She actually got an award for wanting to NOT limit spending....basically sticking it to the taxpayers.
This issue really has nothing to do with Carol Johnson personally - she seemed to be a nice woman in the dealing I have had with her.
This is about elected officials acting responsibly on behalf of the residents of Manchester. The aldermen said they would fire her once the AG investigation was over. The AG's office has indicted Johnson, but now they say they want to wait until after her court date. That could be a year from now!
The taxpayers of Manchester deserve better than this. Call those 8 alderman and tell them that you were smart enough to vote on the spending cap and you're smart enough to see that you - the taxpayer - needs to stop paying Johnson her salary:
Betsie DeVries 647-0117
Mike Lopez 669-8058
Dan O'Neil 668-9814
Mark Roy 641-3885
Jim Roy 623-1364
Bill Shea 622-8079
George Smith 623-9783
Russ Ouellette 668-5025
- Tammy Simmons, Manchester
Dan O'Neil, just HACK defending a HACK!
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester
This is the manifestation of the larger problem of the family tree at city hall that does not fork...Had this not been a family member, perhaps Carol Johnson would have done her job had it not been a relative.
- Rick Olson, Manchester
Even someone making $9.50/hour knows the legal ramifications of NOT doing the job outlined in their job description. "In shock?" Puh-leze. And how can I get a job in Manchester for $95K: collecting a paycheck for not working: on administrative leave for breaking the law? That's a hellofadeal!
- JRS, Claremont
Johnson needs to resign. Enough with embarrassing this city. The evidence is extremely strong and almost certainly results in her guilt. For the sake of Manchester, please Ms. Johnson, resign from your position and save our city the embarrassment.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, New Hampshire
"Still in shock"??? My goodness, Johnson have you no clue? Would you please spare those less fortunate than yourself and further hardship on our already massive tax bills? GO AWAY!
I have followed this from the beginning and couldn't be more disgusted with many of the elected officials in our city. Have you taken the time to actually read through the financial report? I have and I read a story about a department head lying on public tv, her obvious attempts to cover up, leaving a known thief with access to more, and oh yeah, THOUSANDS MISSING OR UNACCOUNTED FOR!!!
Do they forget who they work for? Do they forget how they got there in the first place? More importantly, do they think that we will forget by November 2009 (their turn for reelection) all this negligence and cronyism? This reeks of old school politics!
Now Dan O'Neil is stating that you're innocent until proven guilty. Come on Dan, you are better than that! Gee, any coincidence that you come out now supporting Johnson while your close friend Clifford Ross is joins the defense team?
Chairman Lopez, where are you? Are you running for reelection too like Mr. O'Neil? I sincerely hope you do the right thing and clean up this mess you created. We're all watching very closely. Election day is sooner than you think!
- J Hopkins, Manchester, NH
Abuse of office: City Clerk Carol A. Johnson is charged under a state criminal code known as "official oppression."
Chapter 643:1 reads: "A public servant, as defined in RSA 640:2, II, is guilty of a misdemeanor if, with a purpose to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office; or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office."
The chapter: It dates back to 1971. Johnson's attorney, David L. Nixon, served in the New Hampshire State Senate at that time. Yesterday, Nixon said he could not recall a successful charge brought under that statute.
"City clerk indicted on misdemeanors"
By DAN TUOHY, New Hampshire Union Leader, Monday, October 20, 2008
MANCHESTER – A Hillsborough County grand jury has indicted City Clerk Carol A. Johnson for allegedly protecting her nephew after he had stolen cash from a city account.
The indictment contains two misdemeanor charges of official oppression.
"It basically says," Senior Assistant Attorney General James T. Boffetti said this morning, "that she failed to perform the duties of her office."
Boffetti said Johnson would likely face an arraignment date sometime in the next three or four weeks.
The Class A misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison, a $2,000 fine, and monitoring upon release.
Official oppression is classified under the "abuse of office" chapter in the state’s criminal code. It reads that a public servant is guilty of such charge if, with a purpose to benefit themselves or another person, they knowingly commit an unauthorized act or knowingly refrain from performing a duty.
Johnson, a long-time city employee who was promoted to city clerk in November of 2007, has been on paid administrative leave since the last week of June. Her salary is about $95,000.
David Nixon, an attorney representing Johnson, has previously described the case as Mayor Frank C. Guinta trying to get rid of the city clerk.
Johnson defended her actions back when she was placed on leave. The case arises from Shawn Hanagan, the former city licensing inspector and her 31-year-old nephew, who confessed to stealing $90 in cash from a city clerk’s account, according to a city audit. Hanagan was kept on the city payroll for several weeks after.
For more on this story, see Tuesday's New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com.
It is quite obvious that Mike Garrity and Frank Guinta are afflicted with foot in mouth disease in trying to convict Carol Johnson in the media rather than wait for a trial which will make a determination of her guilt or innocence. Mike and Frank are behaving like pre-emptive hangmen with some relish. I find there behavior disgusting.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
innocent until proven guilty? give me a break. your employer is not held to the same standard as a criminal conviction. the city should and will can her.
- mike conway, manchester
I've lived in a lot of different places over my life, and outrage is certainly something to be expected. Frankly though, I've never seen a city government voluntarily make something like this become public. Most city governments I've been around either cover things like this up or let them continue on. So kudos to those at City Hall that had the courage to address the situation before it got to something really damaging, like AK's $90k.
- BLJ, Hooksett, NH
Everyone has their hand in my pockets already, and now the people we elect to office are covering up malfeasance at city hall! I feel betrayed and my confidence in small town government is lost. I remember the days when everyone looked out for each other and we didn't have to lock our doors - we would all go to church on Sunday mornings then come home for touch football and sausages. Now all we here about are the snakes in office. We need to clean up the mess at city hall and get back to seeing the stories about Eric and Jeff - the good 'ol boys from the heart of Manchester's west side!
- Iris, Blue, Epping, NH
I'm all for "Innocent until proven guilty" but I really hope since a grand jury has found legitimate reasons to move forward with the case that the city is no longer obligated to continue paying +$1800 a week! That wouldn't happen in the private sector, it's troublesome to see it's allowed in public service sector.
Oh and for those complaining about how much a city clerk makes, this dollar amount had to have been approved by the city selectmen at one point. I would vote those people out of office ASAP! A city clerk making $95K with pension and full medical...I guess the old adage that government pays less then private sector is a bunch of BS when it comes to Manchester government workers!
- Mike, Manchester
Correct Tom, but the fact is that she didn't. She put her family before her duty to Manchester, and because of that, I feel that she should resign. She has lost the trust of Manchester's citizens and rightfully so. Johnson, you should resign before this goes any further.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester, New Hampshire
The clerk's office is doing fine without Carol. In fact, Matt Normand organized a series of voter registration sessions around the city, something that Carol and Leo always said was too difficult.
- Ben, Manchester
The poor woman had to make a choice that involved a relative. No easy task I would imagine for anyone, especially for $90.00 lousy dollars. She did make the wrong choice though and was not protecting the interests of those she serves. I think she should just be let go and be done with it. I think she knows the mistake she made now and spending a lot of tax payer money on her sentence just seems like a waste. Some times the worst sentence is the one we carry on ourselves.
- Deb, Derry
Fred– take off your mask, its not Halloween yet. Fred Norris, Riley, Beth Stern, Gary “Delabartie” (its spelled Dell'Abate) make the same irrelevant point about wasting taxpayer money. You should understand that anyone qualified to fill a Director level position will be earning that salary or greater.
I am most disappointed that a fellow fan is willing to sully the names and reputations of the great entertainers. Just like the Howard 100 News says, “If you don't want it reported, don't let it happen.”
- Steve, Manchester, NH
Patricia - I am sure Carol appreciates your support. Remember, if she had fired the employee in question at the time the theft was discovered, this whole ordeal may have been avoided.
- Tom, Manchester
I can't believe what I am reading...Carol Johnson indicted...a year in prison possible???? A blogger writes 'put her in prison'!!!! WHAT?
Carol my heart goes out to you. To be so ridiculed and criticized.
I met Carol Johnson more than a decade ago when she was training would be poll workers for election day. She is professional, intelligent and hard working. She always knew the answer for any pertinent inquiry (regarding election laws)...which is more than I can say for her predecessor....who by the way hired the employee in question.
Carol is being treated like she stole the money!!! Aldermen...put Carol back to work before election day...the city needs her expertise! It is the responsible thing to do. Stop this railroading and ruination of Carol's reputation!!! She has always been an asset to the City Clerks office and she deserves a lot better treatment than this. Carol, I'm so sorry for you as I watch this 'political witch hunt' unfold.
- PatriciaHart, Manchester
Will she be required to pay back the money once she is found guilty? I hope so, though I'll bet she and her cronies will make sure that the law says she doesn't.
Also, this is no petty matter!! If someone stole $90 from your bank account, and a city official covered it up so that person (her nephew) could keep his job and maintain access to your bank account, would you find it so petty?
I don't care if it's $90 or $90K, it's still a big deal. She protected a thief, and allowed him to maintain employed while plenty of HONEST, hardworking people went without jobs. Remember, he was never qualified for the job in the first place - she and her cronies fudged the job requirements to get him hired in the first place! And on top of that, she knew of his habit of stealing. She let a thug have access to the city's money just because he happened to be her nephew, and then she broke the law to maintain his access to city funds. How deplorable!
- AK, Manchester
Stop this foolishness. Stop the free money going to Carol. I'm a taxpayer and that's my money going to someone who's not working!
- Fred Norris, Manchester
Michelle, first of all New Hampshire has some of the lowest tax rates in the country! Also Manchester's tax rate is lower then most of the neighboring towns with twice as many city services!
- Ryan, Manchester
Stop the paid leave! My taxes are high enough. This is foolishness!
- Gary Delabartie, Manchester NH
Why is she still being paid her salary? I am a taxpayer in Manchester and want her to pay back every penny earned while she was suspended!
This is so wrong!
Put her in prison and we as tax payers will be paying for her room and board, but don't let her keep earning a salary while locked up!
I hope she learns a lesson! 95k a year and she acts like this! I could see someone earning way less doing this sort of coverup job! But Carol, you should have known better!
Go try that at another business...don't think you'll last there as long as you did at City Hall and get a paid leave!
- Beth Stern, Manchester
I have no problem with her on paid leave for the last 10 weeks during an investigation and grand jury inquiry for about $16,400 gross, but after that grand jury is presented with evidence and comes back with an indictment for abuse of office for protecting another employee who admitted to stealing from the city, as a city taxpayer it's a slap in the face. She can still be a city employee on unpaid leave.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester
Jim - it's called being innocent until proven guilty - until the final verdict/plea bargain is reached, Ms. Johnson will remain a city employee and continue to receive her pay while on leave. My question is - $95,000 for a city clerk position - wow!
- Mike, Derry, Nh
Wow! What a waste of time and political showboating. This is a petty matter that has turned into a McCarthyism style Lynch mob. Remind me not to jay walk in Manchester, I might get 5 years of hard labor.
- Jose, Manchester
Out of all the people I have dealt with including the Mayor and all the alderman over the last fifteen years. Carol was the best maybe she will get locked up with Pam Smart. You do not see the alderman being investigated, they must cover there tracks better.
- Stan Howser, Manchester
And people wonder why are taxes are so high. In this day and age when all you hear of is spending and raising taxes, along comes a story like this. Can anyone tell me where to apply???? I need to find a job where if I need money I can just take it from a city account. No, not really... I have a job and I am an honest person. But really the next time someone says raise the taxes...let us know why they need to..
- Michelle, Manchester
I agree with Jim. I think she should have to pay back every single dime that the city had to pay to her when she was under investigation. She doesn't deserve my hard earned tax dollars.
- Fred Jenkins, Manchester
For goodness sake, stop the paid leave and save the taxpayers some money already!
- Riley, Manchester
I would hope an indictment would be grounds to re-examine her paid admin leave until there is a resolution to this. Seems preposterous to keep cutting her a check while waiting for this to play out.
- Jim Wilson, Manchester
"Under fire, Manchester city clerk retires"
By MARK HAYWARD, New Hampshire Union Leader, October 30, 2008
MANCHESTER – Embattled City Clerk Carol A. Johnson retired from her job yesterday, four months after allegations surfaced that she protected her nephew, who is accused of stealing $90 from her office.
Johnson submitted her notice to Alderman-at large Mike Lopez, the chairman of aldermen, according to Alderman Michael Garrity.
"I think it's appropriate," said Garrity, who had called for Johnson's resignation earlier this month.
"With great sadness, I submit a notice of retirement from my 32 years with the city of Manchester," Johnson wrote to Lopez. For years, Johnson worked as deputy city clerk; in November, she was elevated to the clerk's job.
It was unclear last night when her retirement will take place.
Johnson took leave of her $95,000-a-year job in late June, when allegations surfaced about her nephew, Shawn Hanagan, and her alleged efforts to protect him.
A Hillsborough County grand jury has indicted her on two charges relating to abuse of office.
One charge says Johnson knowingly refrained from doing her job by failing to immediately fire Hanagan. The second charge says she knowingly refrained from performing her duty when she allowed Hanagan to continue receiving payments on behalf of the city and failed to ensure that no additional money was stolen.
Johnson has claimed she planned to keep Hanagan in his job for 30 days while she tried to fill the position in her understaffed office. She has said she also took steps to prevent Hanagan's access to cash payments.
Support for Johnson initially ran high among aldermen. But earlier this month, they voted 10-4 to stop paying her while on leave. Under the city charter, aldermen are given the responsibility of hiring a city clerk.
Art, public officials are entrusted with great responsibility. Abusing that responsibility certainly warrants stripping that official of their pension. Not only is it just, but it will serve as fair warning to other miscreants lurking about out government offices. We will not tolerate the smallest amount of corruption.
- Tim, Manchester
Matt Normand has been doing a wonderful job since he took over. He even has less staff and still gets the job done. I would like to see the Alderman officially make him the clerk. However, $95,000 is was too much money as is the case with most of the top city jobs. The Mayor is only paid around $60,000 which is the low end, compared to several other city positions. I would like to see some realistic pay scales created to save us taxes payers from the poor house.
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester
No Tom, you don't have to praise Ms. Johnson's actions but we do still live in the United States of America where a person is deemed innocent until proven guilty. You may not like it but that is how the consitution reads.
- Jeff, Manchester
Who said the witch hunts were in Salem? This should be called the Manchester witch hunt. What a bunch of political showboating by the Mayors office and assorted minons. The lynch mob mentality by the officals and some of the crackpots who made some of these comments is unreal. Too bad the mayor has not spent more energy on saving the city from economic meltdown insread of this.
- Tom, Manchester
Michael Paradis, Manchester
I'm worried about Ms Johnson filing a Hostile Work Environment lawsuit against the city for fostering the conditions that would prevent her from being able to return to her job. As soon as the state's investigation began, Mayor Guinta should have deferred all inquiries to the AG's office. Instead he felt compelled to get back at Ms Johnson for having chastising him at a BMA meeting for not allowing her to hire dire-needed additional staff.
Then I read in the Union Leader that Ms Johnson's sister was arrested for doing a routine task as part of working for the Assessors Office - walking over to the Clerks Office to pick up a newspaper/newsletter and bringing it back to the Assessors Office. If a city employee made the phone call that caused the arrest then that employee should be cited for making a false report to the police and reprimanded for causing potential harm to the city's legal position in the investigation of Ms Johnson.
Where is the integrity on the city-side? Where is Mayor Guinta's integrity in this matter? Integrity was thrown out the window last June, with the baby and the bath water.
It would appear to me that the City of Manchester feels completely justified in sticking it to Ms Johnson, regardless of the legal ramifications. I hope you are preparing to save extra dollars for you December 2009 property tax bill to help pay for the court settlement.
- David R, Manchester
You people astonish me - you would take away a 32 year pension for something like this? My God, what would you ask for if she had stolen money herself - Her life? The lives of her family? Would you burn her house to the ground and crucify her yourselves and then gorge on her corpse?
Wow! You are angry people. You have my pity.
- Art, Portsmouth
This issued stemmed from $90 going missing and an employee admiting to the theft. A follow up audit showed several thousand dollars missing. That is a big deal. It is too bad this all happened, but it had to. If the Clerk had dismissed the employee at the time, maybe the entire event could have been avoided.
- Jim, Manchester
With all due respect, please don't defend Mrs. Johnson's actions as "lapse in judgement". I work for a municipality... looking beyond the fact that she should never have been exercising any supervision over any member of her family... her actions upon the theft of funds exceed a "lapse".
Her immediate... IMMEDIATE... course of action should have been to advise her supervisors of the theft. Period. Anything else smacks of subversiveness and any woman intelligent enough to manage a Clerk's office of that size for that amount of money knew that. Second course of action, immediate termination of her nephew or, at a minimum, demotion by the City to a lesser position wherein money would never cross his palm and his aunt would have no supervisory status over him. The excuse of being short staffed is utterly unacceptable and a tremendous disservice to the public you are charged with serving. Public officials are... and most certainly should be... held to a higher standard. 30 years should have taught her that.
As to her retirement? I take no issue with that. As much as her actions disappoint me as a fellow public servant, I don't believe they warrant the loss of everything worked for for 30 years.
- Marcy, Salem, NH
Manchester's newest author, Ms.Johnson. How to Retire from the city while under Indictment.
Looks like we'll be supporting her till the end.
Good Luck Carol. Things will survive just fine without you.
- Gregg M., Manchester
The residents of Manch voted DOWN a pay raise for Guinta a short while ago.
So, you see, if you do want to make change, you can when you VOTE.
It is crazy that the Mayor makes less than a clerk, but there are also college football and basketball coaches that make more than the school president and those in charge of raising annual funds in the millions.
Crazy, but it happens.
- RG, Manchester
"It's just $90 I don't see what the big deal is."
Allow me to explain:
I realize it is in short supply in our "post-modern" society, but, some of us still expect and demand it.
Some refuse to grade these things on a curve.
- Michael Paradis, Manchester
It is a shame that this woman lost her job of 32 dedicated years of service over such a petty crime by her nephew. It irks me to no end that people believe that because she is a city employee that she should be held to a higher standard. Anyone thats works at any job should hold high standards. To Shannon and Ryan assuming you work it is nice to know that neither one of you has so much as stolen a pencil or 5 minutes from your employer. Stealing is stealing no matter the amount and Tim your an idiot if you think this error in judgement should wipe out 32 years of an earned pension.
- Russ, Manchester
Jeff of Manchester wrote: "Ms. Johnson is not a criminal and for people to come on here and condemn her based only on an indictment really need to take a look in he mirror". .. I just looked in the mirror, guess what? I have never been indicted for a criminal offense. Oh, one more thing, anyone who posts here and does not condemn her behavior is either working for the city, or her relative. She has been indicted, charged with committing a crime. What do you want us to do, tell you she is the best,, tell how she always treated everyone great on her bowling team? The woman is a disgrace.
- tom, manchester,nh
She could write a book on how to Retire under Indictment! Would supplement her retirement salary.
Good bye Carol and Thanks for all your help!
- Suzie Q., Manchester
I must have missed it, where does it say she gets a pension? Can anyone tell me where it says this, or how much the pension is going to be, because a lot of people are mentioning a pension and are upset about it, but it does not state there is a pension anywhere??
- Brad, Hooksett, NH
...and now, watch the corrupt aldermen scramble to install one of their worthless, untalented, probably unemployable-in-the-private-sector relatives, into this cushy 95K job. It's an unfortunate Manchester tradition that no one gets a city job who doesn't already have a relative on the city payroll.
To my own alderman Mike Garrity and all the others -- I'll take the job for $30,000 less and save the taxpayers the extra cost! Oh, that's right... I'm not related to any of you, so I guess that won't happen.
- Mark A. Krochmal, Manchester
I agree, the most shocking thing about this whole story is that she was making 95 large. No wonder they always have their hands in our pockets for more tax money. Spending is clearly out of control and this is a perfect example of it.
- Bill, Manchester
To David R. Manchester:
When Guinta threw her under the bus and then ran over her he should have backed up and did it again to make sure!
I expect so called public servants and employees to have high ethical and moral standards. Guinta may have driven the bus but SHE chartered it!
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester
To those who do not agree with me and make such riduclous claims as "Slavery was abolished", let me point out that Slaves were not paid, and Ms Johnson was paid very nicley.
Secondly, in the military, I don't care how many years you have in, if you are under investiagation, or have had charges leveled against you, you are not entitled to retire. Why should people who put their lives on the line have less entitlement than civil servants? And should you be convicted and tossed out, you lose everything.
This is the type of incentive we need for public officials, that if you do not stay honest and above board through your entire career, you will forfeit any right to pension or benefits. We shoudl not reward criminal behavior.
If she is cleared, then let her retire. If she is convicted, she should lose everything, setting an example for those who follow, knowing the price for such actions.
- Howie Howe, Manchester
It is just $90 I don't see what the big deal is.
- Pierre, Manchester
Does anybody think it's out of line when the City Clerk makes $35,000 PER YEAR more than the mayor? I don't care if you support this mayor or not, that's screwed up...
- Steve C, Manchester
Ms. Johnson is not a criminal and for people to come on here and condemn her based only on an indictment really need to take a look in he mirror. Ms. Johnson had a lapse in judgement and the last time I checked a lapse in judgement is not a criminal offense. Maybe it is an offense that can be dealt with by the city but to pursue charges against her is the real waste of taxpayer money here. Let Ms. Johnson retire without having people bashing her. One lapse in judgement and this is what happens? Smells like the same old politics in the City of Manchester. The aldermen should have had the guts to stand up for her and say ok, she made a lapse in judgement and reprimand her but instead they took the easy route. That includes Alderman Lopez. Taking the easy route and a hands off approach just like everything else these guys do. This way they can say well, we didn't do it, the Attorney General pressed the charges. When are we going to elect people who will actually stand up and say what they mean and mean what they say.
Enough bashing Ms. Johnson. I am sure every single one of us makes a mistake in judgement from time to time and we regret those mistakes. Let it be.
- Jeff, Manchester
Mike Bodruk, Manchester
Yes, Ms Johnson screwed up, but did Mayor Guinta have to throw her under the bus and then drive the bus over her?
- David R, Manchester
Howie Howe, the 13 amendment abolished slavery.
- mike conway, manchester
Why are we paying someone 95,000 for an office job? With people that put their life on the line every day and they don't make that kind of money.what is wrong with this picture.Maybe Just MAYBE they should make somewhere around 35 to 40 grand
- Gustave Schunemann, Manchester NH
What goes around, comes around. Finally, the nepotism and cronyism of the City Clerk's office has been exposed. Hopefully, there are lessons learned here that won't be repeated. Mr. Mayor and Board of Aldermen, please hire someone with adequate qualifications and experience from outside of the current staff to bring modern business practices and ETHICS to the Clerk's office!
- Paul M., Manchester
I'm sorry, but how does one retire when under indictment? Retirement guarantees a continued payment, which apprently she chose after they cut off her salary to stay at home on paid suspension. She should not be allowed to retire unless she is cleareed of the charges in court. If she is convicted, then she should lose retirement benefits.
- Howie Howe, Manchester
These opinions are insensitive and ludicrous. I have know and indirectly worked with Carol Johnson for 30 years. Did she make a huge error in judgement, most definitely. That error not only cost her a job she was well suited for but a 30 + year excellent reputation for service to the city of Manchester. If one has never made mistakes, be the first to chastise if necessary, but Carol worked hard and deligently throughout her career. She knew how to run a BMA meeting and all associated rules and ordinances better than anyone. She has gone through enough at this point. How about remembering all the good she did for the city as well? For those insenstive individuals who feel their little power being an anonymous editor, learn the facts before making comments.
- Frank, Manchester
And now, Manchester residents, you know the rest of the story...as Tim pointed out, she gets to keep her pension. Had she been fired, she would not have been able to keep it. Cronyism? possibly.
Public employees, especially upper level management are subject to the same penalties as employees of private companies, they can be terminated for cause. I suspect that the City Clerk could have been terminated after an initial investigation, because criminal charges certainly meet the definition of "cause".
Not a very good example by the city fathers.
- Pete, Swanzey
She screwed up now we have to pay her forever!
What a fraud!
- Mike Bodruk, Manchester
Mrs. Johnson was always professional with the citizens of Manchester, with that said, she did make a judgement call that was found to be wrong and it is now been corrected. From this point, hiring a new City Clerk should start from a lower salary grade or grade scale. Unlike what has happened in the past with the MANSD. One person leaves and another starts off wth the last person's pay they recieved. In such economic times, the city should look to find a professional like Mrs. Johnson who will agree to work for a salary that respects the taxpayers of Manchester and is not 'ballooned' in such a way it requires a tax increase next year to pay for it.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
My opinion: This is the best decision she has made since she took the job.
- Shannon Lee, Manchester, New Hampshire
This was the right thing for Johnson to do. She lost the trust of Manchester with what she did and with an important position such as the City Clerk, we cannot afford to rely on someone who's judgement has proven to be flawed in such a way. Its too bad, but she brought this upon herself and it is very appropriate for Johnson just to remove herself from City Hall all together.
- Ryan Feltner, Manchester NH
For public officials, it's always important to retire *before* any convictions to ensure that the precious pension is protected.
- Tim, Manchester
Frank Guinta is a PERSECUTOR! As the worst Mayor in the history of the WORLD via Manchester, New Hampshire, Frank Guinta PERSECUTED City Clerk Carol Johnson for a crime one of her subordinates, who also was her nephew, allegedly committed. Guinta suspended Johnson with pay for several months and then stated that the Aldermen should terminate her employment. As City Clerk, Carol Johnson spoke out against Guinta's ineffective leadership so the city could have a functional City Clerk's Office. At the time, she ran her office with only about 50% of the needed staff. City Clerk Carol Johnson took action against her nephew, but she did NOT immediately terminate his employment after it was found that he stole 3 $30 increments of cash. I do NOT believe Carol Johnson abused her authority as City Clerk! I do, indeed, believe that Frank Guinta RETALIATED against Carol Johnson for speaking out against the Mayor. Furthermore, I do, indeed, believe that Frank Guinta is the one who abused his political office by his UNPROFESSIONAL conduct, conflicts of (political) interests, and using derogatory language to slight those who dissent against his INEFFECTIVE "leadership", such as myself, whom his political henchmen called a "moron" herein. To read more about my many, many, many, many...writings against Mayor Frank Guinta, please visit my blog pages.
The ANTI-Frank Guinta!
"Ex-city clerk reaches plea deal with state"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, April 10, 2009
MANCHESTER – Former City Clerk Carol Johnson has agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge for her role in the City Hall scandal that cost her her job last summer.
Johnson would pay a $300 fine under the deal she struck with state prosecutors last week. The deal reduces the charge against her, a relatively rare crime known as "official oppression," from a misdemeanor to a violation.
"The fact that she was treated the way she was and lost her job is of far more significance than this," her attorney, Larry Vogelman, said yesterday.
Vogelman declined to say whether he thought the outcome of the case was fair, but did say, "It's probably best for everybody to get this behind us."
Johnson came under fire last June amid allegations that she kept her nephew, Shawn Hanagan, on the city payroll after learning he had stolen $90 from the clerk's office. She retired as city clerk in October, after a Hillsborough County grand jury indicted her on two "alternative" counts of official oppression, both misdemeanors.
Either charge would have carried a possible sentence of 12 months in jail, plus a $2,000 fine.
Johnson told city officials she made sure Hanagan returned all of the stolen money and reassigned him so he would no longer have access to cash accounts. She said she did not fire him because her office was short-staffed and she believed Mayor Frank Guinta would not allow her to hire a replacement.
"One thing that factually she admits is that she didn't fire him immediately," Vogelman said. "But is it a crime? Rather than wait a couple years for the Supreme Court of New Hampshire to figure out the answer to that question, our preference was just to plead nolo (no contest) to a violation."
Unlike a misdemeanor, a violation would be expunged from Johnson's record in a year, Vogelman said.
The negotiated agreement, which would impose a $250 fine and a $50 penalty assessment, will have to be approved by a Hillsborough County Superior Court judge. A plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 1.
Two months ago, Johnson's attorneys hoped to convince a judge to dismiss the case, arguing in a motion that the state law cited in the indictments was "unconstitutionally vague." They said it could not be proved that Johnson "knowingly refrained from performing a duty clearly inherent in the nature of her office," as the indictments allege, because the law is unclear on what duties are inherent.
Objecting to the motion, prosecutors said Johnson "did not conduct an audit or otherwise initiate an investigation to verify that no additional monies were misappropriated, nor did she report the theft to the Mayor, the Aldermen, the police, or anyone else." They also said she did not limit Hanagan's access to cash.
The motion says Hanagan left on his own terms, when he gave his two weeks notice. At that time, the motion says, Johnson sent an office-wide e-mail saying Hanagan was "(moving) on to a new position" and held a "going away" party for him.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss was scheduled for April 2 but was canceled at the last minute.
Hanagan was the city license enforcement inspector at the time of the thefts. The state has said Johnson did not participate in his hiring.
Hanagan pleaded no contest in January to two charges of theft by unauthorized taking. He was fined $480 and received a suspended jail sentence.
Vogelman said Johnson has a new job and is "moving on with her life."
She did not respond to a request for comment.
What a bunch of crap! Im no fan of Johnson but this was Manchester politics at its best. She and the good Mayor did not see eye to eye and that was the end of her. If see was guilty of anything it was poor management like many of the department managers in the City. If she had to go Normand should of too.
- Teddy, Manchester
The city will prosecute a $90 theft, but what ever happened to the two city employees who were accused of stealing over $20K from the drop off center?
- Jason, Manchester
Johnson's real crime is the same crime of the Franconia Police Chief and Barthelmes -- a failure to properly supervise direct-reports.
The circus that occurred with Carlberg and the McKay tragedy were both preventable. Three prominent incidents is enough.
Brennan, Mara, Burkush, Sheppard. And Scannell. Say what you will about Guinta. No one will accuse him of the same thing.
- Steve, Manch
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at email@example.com
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