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Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the Brink of Collapse: Bad Roofs, Murder, and Corruption II

UPDATE: Please also check out my new book, The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers by going to this link where in chapter three this case is explored in further.

Last August, I featured a story about Gerard Beloin. Beloin has spent nearly two decades in roofing. About seven years ago, he was one of several roofers that put a bid on a roofing project in the Goffstown School Disrict in New Hampshire. In inspecting the roof, Beloin not only found that the roof didn't meet the minimum standards of inspection but was in danger of collapsing. He took his observations to the School Board President, Dr. Craig Hieber. Dr. Hieber took his concerns to the rest of the school board, and then within months, Dr. Hieber died in circumstances consistent with being gassed. To this day, no one has been charged with his death.

Dr. Hieber was replaced on the school board by Kerry Steckowych. Steckowych was then simultaneously the head prosecutor of the city of Goffstown. Steckowych dismissed Beloin's concerns and eventually the school board awarded the contract to another roofing company. So far, none of the defficiencies that Beloin observed have been fixed and Beloin continues to maintain that the roof is a ticking time bomb that can collapse at any moment.

Beloin began to take his concerns to anyone that would listen. This eventually set off a chain of events that eventually included Beloin's place of business burning down. (actually the place next door though Beloin believes this was done to send a message) Beloin also began to receive threats over the phone and in person. Soon, Beloin decided to record these threats. On his recordings, he recorded all sorts of folks alluding to murder, extortion, and making other threats. At least one person, John Janigan, was recorded acting as an agent of Steckowych himself. At the time, Janigan was also Beloin's landlord for Beloin's business. Eventually, Beloin released these recordings to authorities.

Rather than investigating and even prosecuting those on the recordings, prosecutors instead pursued charges against Beloin himself. Recording people without their permission and sharing those recordings is a crime. Beloin insists that if one is recorded committing a crime, as these recordings clearly indicate, then this provision is null and void.

In fact, to me, the legalities are a side issue. Four about four years, prosecutors went after Beloin for making and sharing these recordings with vengeance. In fact, most folks in Beloin's position would eventually have run out of money. Beloin eventually began to represent himself. Initially, the prosecutors charged Beloin with so many different crimes that theoretically had he been convicted on all counts he could have faced life in jail. For about four years this went on and on. On more than one occasion, charges were dismissed. Then, this past November, Beloin was convicted of one misdemeanor of recording an agent for the State of NH, without his knowledge or consent. For this, Beloin spent one full day in jail. At the trial, the trial judge, Judge James Barry Jr., refused to allow Beloin to play the recordings. The jury never knew what was on them, and thus decided guilt and innocence without knowing that the recordings contained evidence of criminality.

Now, we need some context here. No one on any of the recordings has ever been investigated let alone convicted. The mysterious death of Dr. Craig Hieber has lead to absolutely no investigation, charges, let alone convictions. Prosecutor Steckowych hasn't been investigated, charged, or convicted. The roof has never been fixed. Yet, for four years prosecutors have gone after Beloin for what amounted in the end to one conviction on a misdeamenor.

Prosecutors everywhere have discretion. Some folks they make deals with. Some folks they prosecute to the end. Some folks they don't prosecute at all. When some folks are heard on tape alluding to murder and they aren't prosecuted, while others are prosecuted for four years for a misdeamenor, one must ask why.

Here is part III of this story.

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