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Author Topic: Gag Order Vacated In Controversial Arrest of Hockey Coach  (Read 5106 times)

Gag order ruled unconstitutional in case of hockey coach stunned, arrested by Salem police

Follow up to existing story from

BRENTWOOD — A superior court judge has vacated a gag order in the case of a youth hockey coach facing criminal charges after a scuffle with Salem police, calling the order unconstitutional and a restriction of free speech.

Prosecutors have said the gag order was necessary to prevent the case being tried in the media.

“To the extent that the case has, and may in the future, garner statewide publicity, it is unlikely to be so pervasive as to interfere with jury selection,” Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Andy Schulman wrote in court documents acquired by the Union Leader.

Gilles Bissonnette of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire called the decision a “victory for government transparency and accountability.”

“We’ve now asked Salem to provide the documents to us,” he said, referring to police reports and communications related to the Dec. 2 incident at the ICenter in Salem, which resulted in the arrest of youth hockey coach Robert Andersen of Wilmington, Mass. and the subsequent arrests in May of two parents present that day, John Chesna of Revere, Mass. and Christopher Albano of Reading, Mass.

Andersen is charged with assaulting a police officer and criminal threatening. Chesna and Albano are facing misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and simple assault.

Earlier this spring, Albano, along with several other parents, spoke to the media in defense of Andersen, whom they say was wrongly arrested after trying to break up a verbal dispute between parents. They also criticized police for tasering Andersen.

Soon after, Chesna and Andersen were arrested. The ACLU then announced it was investigating the Salem Police Department for possible witness intimidation tactics and sued the town of Salem for documents pertinent to the cases.

In a compromise, the court allowed the ACLU to intervene in the criminal proceedings of Andersen’s case and the ACLU agreed to drop its suit.

Former New Hampshire attorney general Michael Delaney, now the director of litigation at the McLane Middleton law firm, is Andersen’s defense attorney.

Albano faces a simple assault charge. In a parent’s video of the incident he can be seen swatting the hand of a police officer who is blocking Albano’s cell phone camera with his hand. He’s also charged with disorderly conduct.

Chesna faces a criminal trespass charge and three counts of disorderly conduct. According to court documents, Chesna allegedly stepped onto the ice and yelled profanities at the referee for penalizing his son. The state cites video evidence it obtained from a person who was at the December game.

Chesna’s trial was rescheduled to Nov. 14 because he needs 90 days to recover from replacement aortic valve surgery he had on Aug. 7, according to court documents.

Timothy Bush, Albano’s attorney, said they will be going to trial likely in early 2019.

Late last month, Schulman described the gag order as “overbroad” after hearing arguments from Delaney, the prosecution and the ACLU.

Schulman chose not to replace the gag order issued by Judge Marguerite Wageling in May with a more narrow one. He also noted the unusual nature of the gag order, saying it’s not common even in first-degree murder cases in the state.

Reply #1:
 May 04, 2019, 06:12:25 PM
Follow up...

Bob Andersen, 45, of Wilmington, pleaded guilty last week to the misdemeanor charge just before his trial was set to begin later this month. Andersen faces no jail time and was fined $500 by the court.

“My client plead to a lower-level misdemeanor to avoid the burden of a two-week trial,” Andersen’s attorney Michael Delaney said.

Andersen was originally charged with simple assault and criminal threatening of police — both of which carried potentially two to five years of jail time.

The state elected to drop those charges last week in the plea agreement with Andersen, Delaney said.

Full Story

Reply #2:
 May 10, 2019, 08:00:26 AM

A third man charged in a disturbance at the ICenter in December 2017 pleaded guilty Wednesday to a violation-level disorderly conduct charge.

Christopher Albano, of Reading, Mass., was ordered to pay a $200 fine.

His attorney, Timothy Bush, said prosecutors dropped a charge of assaulting a police officer and reduced the disorderly conduct violation from a misdemeanor during a status hearing.

“Mr. Albano pled to a violation-level disorderly conduct,” Bush said. “So, Mr. Albano has no criminal record.”

Bush said Albano is a successful small business owner. He was one of several parents at a youth hockey game Dec. 2, 2017, that descended into chaos, according to police.

After parents and players allegedly berated a referee with profanities, the game was cut short and parents continued arguing in the ICenter lobby when police were called.

Police arrested Albano and another parent, John Chesna of Revere, Mass., in May 2018, citing evidence they received after Albano and other parents gave interviews to WBZ-TV in April 2018 that was critical of how Salem police handled the incident.

Albano was seen in video recordings using his cellphone to film police arresting a coach and at one point swatted the hand of an officer attempting to control the crowd.

Mass. State Police arrested Albano at Logan International Airport on behalf of Salem police.

During the 2017 incident youth hockey coach Robert Andersen of Wilmington, Mass., was arrested, with multiple officers using tasers and tackling him. Andersen was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Andersen and witnesses said he was mediating a verbal fight between parents when police arrested him. Charges against him were reduced to a Class B misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and others were dropped at a pretrial hearing April 25.

Andersen paid a $500 fine.

Last November, Chesna agreed to plead guilty to a violation-level criminal trespass charge, with three disorderly conduct charges — of which two were misdemeanors — suspended for two years of good behavior. He was ordered to pay half of a $500 fine and to serve 10 hours of community service.

Chesna also was banned from the ICenter for two years.

According to police, Chesna was one of the parents yelling profanities at a referee and walked onto the ice.

The ICenter incident was featured in a critical audit report by Kroll Inc., which reviewed the Salem Police Department’s internal affairs process, time and attendance practices and department culture.

Auditors found police responded to complaints by Andersen with minimal effort and did not interview several witnesses, including an off-duty Mass. State Police detective.

Kroll investigators also found Salem police cherry-picked witnesses months later who supported their version of events before arresting Albano and Chesna.


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