Police: Couple stole bailiff’s misplaced gun from courthouse
Jacob Noury and Courtney Rojek
A man and woman have been charged with stealing a court bailiff’s handgun, after the police said a bailiff lost the weapon in the women’s bathroom at Concord’s district court last week.
Courtney Rojek of Pittsfield and Jacob Noury of Barrington were arraigned yesterday on felony-level charges of theft and possession of a firearm inside a court facility.
Bailiff Julie Bickford lost her gun at the courthouse Friday morning, and told the police the semiautomatic handgun likely fell out of its holster while she was using the bathroom, according to an arrest affidavit.
Video surveillance shows 24-year-old Rojek entering the bathroom one minute after Bickford left, the police said. They said Rojek left the bathroom with the gun in her hand, set it on a table and motioned to 33-year-old Noury. He picked up the gun and tucked it into the waistband of Rojek’s pants, the police said.
Rojek then left the courthouse, according to the police, while Noury filed court paperwork and returned it to the clerk’s window. The suspects, identified in court documents as boyfriend and girlfriend, drove away together in a green car, the police said.
After Bickford’s missing weapon was reported to the state police, court employees helped identify Noury and Rojek from video footage. They were arrested Saturday at Noury’s tattoo parlor on Route 4 in Chichester.
Noury was in court Friday for sentencing on a disorderly conduct charge. He received a suspended six-month sentence, pending good behavior. Before leaving court that day, he filed a request with the court for the return of his firearm.
Rojek also has a criminal history; she is under a suspended sentence for simple assault, pending good behavior.
Noury and Rojek were each held on $10,000 cash bail after their arraignments yesterday at the district court in Concord.
Policies regarding bailiffs
Bickford, the bailiff who left her gun in the court bathroom, is not working while the incident is under investigation, court spokeswoman Laura Kiernan said.
The 32-year-old Weare resident had been working as a court security officer for six months, Kiernan said. Bailiffs are hired on a per-diem basis and paid $85 per day.
Court security officers provide their own weapons, Kiernan said, and Bickford’s Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun was on the court’s list of approved weapons for security officers. The bailiffs receive firearms training each year, she said.
“In follow-up on this particular event, we are reviewing our policies to make sure that protocols and procedures are in place to ensure that this type of event does not happen again,” Kiernan said.
A woman who answered the phone at Bickford’s home yesterday said Bickford did not wish to comment.
At their arraignments yesterday morning, Judge Gerard Boyle told Rojek and Noury that they present a danger to the community.
Speaking through a video feed from the Merrimack County jail yesterday, Rojek cried and asked that she be released to care for her 5-year-old son and attend court-mandated counseling sessions.
“I made a bad choice,” she said between sobs. “I don’t even like guns.”
Boyle told Rojek he was concerned that the alleged crimes occurred with a 12-month suspended sentence “hanging over your head.”
In the past year, she has been sentenced on charges of simple assault, child endangerment, resisting arrest and criminal mischief, according to court records. She received a one-year sentence in July for simple assault, suspended pending good behavior for two years.
In an August incident in Pittsfield, the police said Rojek was intoxicated, left her young son home alone and assaulted another woman, according to an arrest affidavit. The police said she kicked, bit and punched the officer who arrested her. Her sentences were deferred and would be suspended pending good behavior.
In court yesterday, public defender David Hendricks said Noury played no role in the gun theft. Noury denies touching the gun, he said.
“Mr. Noury has no idea what’s going on here,” Hendricks said. “There’s such a thing as a coincidence.”
History with firearms
Last year, Noury was convicted of possessing a firearm without a license, according to court documents. Prosecutor James Shepard said yesterday that court testimony at the time revealed the police had revoked Noury’s license to carry a firearm due to concerns for his mental health.
But Hendricks said the defense had objected to that testimony. Noury has no record of mental health treatment, he said.
“I’m a law-abiding citizen,” Noury told Boyle yesterday, through video from Merrimack County jail.
Noury first filed a court motion for the return of his firearm in November.
“I need my . . . pistol back with amo & magazine,” he wrote in the document filed in Concord’s district court. “Because I paid a lot of money for it & it is legally my property registered to me. We the people have the right to bear arms constitution American rights. Target shooting sport.”
That motion was made with an incorrect document, according to a notice from the court clerk. Noury filed another motion Friday, before the police said he left the courthouse and drove away with Rojek and the bailiff’s handgun.
State police Detective Sgt. Fred Lulka said the arrests were “a team effort” between court employees and the police.
“This has never happened before in this court, nor have . . . I heard of anything like it in New Hampshire,” Lulka said.
Kiernan said safety is the court system’s “primary concern,” and she complimented the effort of court employees who worked with the police during the weekend to identify the suspects.
“I know the chief justice (Linda Dalianis) wanted to express her thanks to them for being alert to what’s going on in a very busy place during an incredibly busy day,” she said.
Noury and Rojek are both scheduled for probable cause hearings Feb. 8 at Concord’s district court.