Judge to rule on restraining order against Sunapee police chief

  • Heather Furlong questions Sunapee police Chief David Cahill on Thursday in Sullivan County Superior Court. Jennifer Hauck / Valley News

Monitor staff
Thursday, September 07, 2017

A Sullivan County Superior Court judge is expected to decide Friday whether to grant a Sunapee family a restraining order against the town’s police chief.

During a roughly three-hour hearing Thursday in Newport, Heather and Joseph Furlong accused Sunapee police Chief David Cahill of maliciously pursuing criminal charges against Joseph Furlong for allegedly doctoring an email to help sway a 2016 school board election in his wife’s favor. Heather Furlong won, but later resigned.

Joseph Furlong was arrested in March. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office dropped six misdemeanor charges against him in July, but filed three new replacement charges in Newport’s district court. Those charges have been dismissed by a judge because the statute of limitations had run out. The AG’s office has appealed.

The Furlongs claimed Cahill ignored key evidence that Joseph Furlong was innocent, and went out of his way to publicize the arrest, which was extensively covered in the media statewide.

“It seems he was trying to broadcast this as far and as wide as he could, both to make a name for himself and also to humiliate (my husband),” Heather Furlong told judge Brian Tucker.

Heather Furlong also said she attempted on March 20 to report to Sunapee police that she had been harassed by community members after her husband’s arrest. Someone had also gone into her car and opened her mail, she said.

Furlong claimed that Cahill declined to investigate, and went on to make “many bizarre comments.”

“He tells me this is about an eye for an eye,” she said. “He tells me that everybody sees that I am a bad person. He tells me that many issues came out of his divorce, and issues will come out of mine as well. He tells me that good people sometimes turn bad when they become middle-aged. He tells me that I can run for school board again, but that first I will have to apologize to the community. And then he tells me where I live and he can come and arrest me at any time.”

In Cahill’s defense, attorney Walter Mitchell pointed out that, by the Furlongs’ own admission, Cahill hadn’t interacted with the family about the case since March.

And in his own testimony to Tucker, Cahill gave his own account of his conversation with Heather Furlong after her husband’s arrest. He flatly denied mentioning his divorce, threatening to arrest her, or suggesting any sort of retribution.

“I was saying that, generally, good people make bad mistakes. But they can recover from it,” he said. Cahill claimed he had tried to reassure Furlong that, if her husband accepted responsibility, the scandal would eventually “blow over.”

He added that he did make a report regarding the only item Heather Furlong claimed was missing – her license – which she later emailed to say she had found.

As for the media surrounding the case, Cahill said that, on the AG office’s advice, he handled the case the way he handled most arrests – by listing it in the digest that the department sent out every Friday to all media outlets subscribed to their newsletter.

The Furlongs are representing themselves. In one tense exchange, Heather Furlong asked Cahill herself if he felt like he could “arrest anybody.”

“Can I go and arrest somebody without probable cause, without following the laws? No, I can’t,” he said.

Cahill also denied ignoring exculpatory evidence. He conceded that, in the beginning of the investigation, he didn’t believe Adam Gaw, who ultimately came forward for doctoring the emails. But Cahill said he called the number Furlong provided for Gaw multiple times, and eventually asked Manchester police to arrest him.

Gaw, a Manchester resident, faces three counts of forgery and two counts of false documents. That case is still pending in district court. The dismissed charges against Furlong had accused him of working with Gaw.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)