By Annmarie Timmins
Concord Monitor staff
CONCORD, N.H. — A state trooper who has been under investigation by the state police for his off-duty conduct is now also facing criminal charges and a psychiatric evaluation following an incident at state police headquarters Wednesday afternoon.
James Conrad, 49, of Mountain Road, Concord, threatened to shoot a Concord police officer and state police employees Wednesday, according to court records. He also resisted arrest and placed a harassing telephone call to his estranged wife in violation of the terms of their pending divorce agreement, the records said.
The state police said Conrad made the threats about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday while they were investigating complaints about his off-duty conduct. The state police declined to discuss those complaints or their investigation against Conrad. But according to police records contained in a Laconia court file, Conrad is being investigated for allegedly using his police contacts and emergency lights to search for his wife during a domestic dispute.
Conrad, a state trooper since 1993 and currently assigned to the major crime unit, was charged Wednesday with criminal threatening, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and violation of a protective order. He is being held on $60,000 cash-only bail and has agreed to be admitted to the New Hampshire State Hospital for evaluation and treatment, according to his attorney, Eric Wilson of Nashua.
If Conrad posts bail, he is prohibited from going to the state police headquarters on Hazen Drive unless called there by a supervisor. He is not allowed to have contact with his estranged wife or two children. And he must turn over all his guns or other weapons to the Concord police.
Conrad, who is also a member of the New Hampshire Air National Guard, spent Wednesday night at the Merrimack County jail and was arraigned by video in Concord District Court yesterday morning. His lawyer entered not-guilty pleas to the four charges. Conrad wept during the arraignment.
Judge Gerard Boyle sealed the affidavit detailing Conrad's alleged conduct yesterday at the request of city prosecutor Tracy Connolly and Conrad's attorney. They cited the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Conrad has been the subject of an internal state police investigation since September, according to the state police. Lt. Mark Myrdek, head of the internal affairs division, said yesterday he could not disclose the nature of that investigation. The timing of the internal investigation, however, corresponds to a September incident between Conrad and the Meredith police that was referred to the state police for investigation.
Those police records are contained in a domestic violence case Conrad filed in Laconia Family Court in October against his wife, after she filed for divorce. (A judge ultimately dismissed Conrad's domestic violence petition.) The files describe an acrimonious divorce.
Conrad and his estranged wife were having marital problems when she left their Laconia home for the night in late September "to clear her head," according to court records. Because she would not return home, Conrad reported her missing and then searched for her himself.
At 1 a.m. on Sept. 23, Conrad raced through Meredith in his vehicle searching for his wife's car, according to court records. He was speeding, passing vehicles and had his SUV's flashers going, the court records said.
Conrad refused to stop for a Meredith police officer, who had to speed to keep pace with Conrad's vehicle, according to court records. Conrad finally stopped when he found his wife's empty vehicle parked at a school parking lot. He got out of his vehicle and yelled at the Meredith officer who'd been chasing him.
"I'm a f------ trooper," Conrad said, according to the court records.
When the officer, who did not recognize Conrad, said he didn't care who he was, Conrad continued yelling.
"You Meredith cops aren't doing s---," he said. "My wife's missing, and you guys aren't out looking for her."
The Meredith police told Conrad he could expect a call from their supervisor about his conduct. According to court records, Conrad said he'd "call the f------ chief himself."
Although Conrad's wife's vehicle showed no sign of foul play, Conrad asked a state trooper from the Troop E barracks in West Ossipee to bring in a police dog to search for his wife. Conrad permitted the police to unlock his wife's vehicle. Then, using the police dog, another state trooper determined that Conrad's wife had parked her car at the school lot and left in another vehicle.
Conrad then arranged to have his wife's vehicle towed to their Laconia home, according to court records. He apologized to the Meredith officers and said several times that his "head is not in the right place," according to court records.
The Meredith police suspended their investigation because the state police began their own investigation, according to court records.
Several days later, Conrad's wife filed for divorce. A few days after that, Conrad accused his wife of domestic violence and asked for a domestic violence petition against her. His petition was dismissed.
The state police declined to comment on Conrad's alleged conduct in Meredith and have not said specifically what initiated Conrad's alleged threats Wednesday. In a prepared statement issued yesterday afternoon, Col. Frederick Booth said the state police were "investigating a non-work related complaint involving . . . Conrad" when Conrad made criminal threats against state police employees.
The state police reported the matter to the Concord police, who responded and are investigating.
According to the charges filed by the Concord police, Conrad said he was going to take a Concord officer's police gun and shoot the officer and everyone else in the room. He also pulled away and struggled when Myrdek, the head of the state police's internal affairs division, tried to restrain him, according to the charges. He made loud and unreasonable noises, even after being asked to quiet down. The police charges also allege that Conrad called his estranged wife and told her, "I hate you. You ruined my life. You f------ b----. You had to call. You ruined my life."
The police have declined to say what call Conrad's estranged wife allegedly made that upset him. After Conrad was arrested, he was taken to Concord Hospital for unspecified injuries from the incident.
Conrad did not speak yesterday during his arraignment other than to say he understood his bail conditions. He did not have any visible injuries.
After the arraignment, Connolly ordered the Concord police to withhold Conrad's police booking photo from the press, saying Judge Boyle had sealed everything in the case. In court, however, Boyle sealed only the police affidavit until the police investigation is complete.
The complaints against Conrad were released, and his image by video was not obscured from the public or the news media.
In addition, booking photos are typically treated as public information once a person has been, arrested and, in this case arraigned in a public courtroom.
Connolly could not be reached to discuss her order to keep the photo private. Jail Superintendent Ron White made a jail photo of Conrad available yesterday afternoon.
Copyright 2007 The Concord Monitor
N.H. trooper charged with threatening police