Lawyer claims Hillsborough County official violated right-to-know laws

  • Flanked by Weare police officers, Weare police Chief Sean Kelly speaks after he was sworn in as the chief on Saturday, June 20, 2015. SUSAN DOUCET

Monitor staff
Published: 4/14/2017 11:11:07 PM

A former Weare police officer suing the town for wrongful termination is accusing the Hillsborough County Attorney of withholding public information which could help her case.

Lisa Censabella asked a judge to rule on whether Hillsborough County Attorney Dennis Hogan refused to provide documents for over a year in response to a right-to-know request.

Censabella’s attorney, Tony Soltani, said her case has been unable to move forward because of Hogan’s failure to disclose the documents.

Censabella filed a lawsuit against the town of Weare, police chief Sean Kelly, several current and former officers, including McSweeney and various town officials in November after she was allegedly “subjected to constant harassment and social isolation” and wrongfully terminated after six years on the force.

Soltani requested records from Hogan revealing that McSweeny was the subject of a criminal investigation. Soltani said the records are relevant to Censabella’s case because Kelly testified in a New Hampshire Department of Labor hearing held on Dec. 2, 2015 that McSweeney’s input on Censabella’s performance was a factor in Censabella’s termination.

Prior to that meeting, McSweeney was being investigated for a plot to cover up a cruiser crash by asking a firefighter to cut the brake lines of her cruiser, according to the petition. But Kelly asked that the investigation be withdrawn after McSweeney resigned on Dec. 16, 2015.

The case is linked to another suit against the town by former Weare police lieutenant James Carney, who was the target of an internal investigation that he said forced him to resign amid emotional distress. Censabella said in her suit she was the victim of harassment, retaliation and intimidation for refusing to take part in what she called “a smear campaign” to remove Carney. 

The suit states Censabella was pressured by her then direct supervisor, Kenneth Cox and McSweeney to provide a written statement to the union and the town that outlined misconduct by Carney in February 2013, which Censabella refused to do. 

A year later, after Carney had left the department, Censabella began suffering from “extreme anxiety, social isolation, and depression as a result of work-related stress.”  After being placed on and off administrative leave for over a year, Censabella’s employment was terminated.

Hogan did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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