How a fake sick day landed a Concord police officer on the Laurie List 

  • Former Concord police officer Josh Levasseaur reflects on his experiences on getting on the Laurie List. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Concord police officer Josh Levasseaur reflects on his experiences on getting on the Laurie List. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Concord police officer Josh Levasseur reflects on his experiences on getting on the Laurie List. GEOFF FORESTERMonitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/25/2022 7:34:41 PM

Josh Levasseur didn’t falsify evidence like former Claremont Sgt. Ian Kibbe and officer Mark Burch did in 2018. He wasn’t convicted of a hit-and-run like former Manchester officer Steven Cornacchia, nor did he punch and stomp a suspect after a chase like former New Hampshire State Trooper Andrew Monaco.

But he appears alongside them on the most recent public version of the Laurie List, because when he was a Concord police officer, he called in sick to go to a birthday party.

Levasseur is one of two former Concord police officers listed on the exculpatory evidence schedule, formerly called the Laurie List, which is maintained by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. Officers are placed on the list by their chiefs because of credibility issues, including criminal activity or excessive force.

Levasseur doesn’t think he should have ever been put on the list, and now his former employer seems to agree.

Prosecutors give this list of officer names to defense attorneys as part of their constitutional obligations under U.S. Supreme Court case Brady vs. Maryland and New Hampshire Supreme Court case State vs. (Carl) Laurie.

Because of legislation passed in 2021, Levasseur’s name became public in March, along with the names of 173 other law enforcement officers. There are now 265 total names on the list, according to an April report from the Attorney General’s Office. Dozens of officers’ names were redacted as lawsuits to keep their names secret progress through the court system, while others were redacted because they had not received notice that the list would be published.

Reasons that officers appear on the list include truthfulness, dereliction of duty and falsifying evidence. Levasseur’s name appears on the March version of the list beside a 2013 incident date, with the reason listed as “unknown.”

Birthday party tointernal investigation

Levasseur joined the Concord Police Department in July 2005 and quickly began racking up commendations and awards. In 2008, he was named Concord’s police officer of the year and the American Legion’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for the State of New Hampshire, and he received an honorable mention for the National Association of Police Organization’s TOP COPS award.

As a new officer, he was assigned ride-alongs, including students from Concord High School’s criminal justice career program. One boy with an interest in law enforcement reminded him of his younger self.

“I was never the macho guy; I was sensitive and did musical theater,” Levasseur said. “This kid reminded me of me.”

They stayed in touch, so when the young man bought a bus ticket home from his Connecticut college for his 21st birthday, Levasseur arranged to swap shifts with another officer and promised to take him out in Boston. But the other officer backed out less than 24 hours before Levasseur’s scheduled shift.

At 11 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2013, Levasseur called on-duty watch commander Lt. Paul Leger and said he wouldn’t make his shift, scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. He signed a sick leave slip a week later on Jan. 28.

The birthday celebration was a success, but Levasseur got caught. During an internal investigation, he admitted that he had called in sick to avoid canceling his plans.

On April 4, Levasseur was suspended for one day without pay, according to personnel records reviewed by the Monitor. A letter from then-Chief John Duval notifying Levasseur of his suspension said that he had violated a rule prohibiting “fictitious illness or injury.”

Levasseur found out months later that he had been added to the Laurie List. It made little sense to him that he was labeled as untrustworthy right before the Concord Police Department made him an undercover officer in the drug enforcement unit.

“I applied for and got a position undercover at the (police department) in 2013, as this was happening, and then got put undercover where I had access to a bunch of money and drugs and was working undercover, where my credibility was not put into question,” Levasseur said.

Exculpatory evidenceschedule criteria

In addition to conduct like “egregious dereliction of duty” and “excessive use of force,” the New Hampshire Attorney General’s guidance says that officers should be added to the list if they are caught deliberately lying during a court case or in a police report or internal investigation or if they falsify records or evidence.

Chief Brad Osgood wrote in an email to the Monitor that Concord followed the Attorney General’s guidance in 2013 when the city told the County Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office that Levasseur’s conduct could rise to the level of the Laurie List.

Osgood wrote that after Levasseur’s name was released this year, the city consulted with the Attorney General’s Office about whether he should be on the list. “The City had received sealed court orders that simply calling in sick (when not sick) does not rise to the level of an (exculpatory evidence schedule) violation and has shared those sealed orders with the Attorney General’s Office,” Osgood wrote. The orders came from the 6th Circuit Court in Concord and the Merrimack County Superior Court.

Today, a Concord police officer who faked being sick would most likely not end up on the list.

“Any determination would need to be made based on the context of the discussion between the officer and his or her supervisor, but generally calling in sick (when not sick) would now be handled as an internal personnel matter rather than an (exculpatory evidence schedule) violation,” Osgood wrote.

When Levasseur received a notice informing him that his name would be released under transparency legislation signed in August, he considered appealing. But he decided not to hire an attorney, partly because he had left policing.

When the most recent batch of 174 names was released on March 29, Levasseur didn’t leave the house for days.

“That was hard, because my name was put out there with Bryan Croft, who beat the hell out of his wife. And I was like, ‘Now people think that I’m on the same level as that person.’ I called out sick, and he beat his wife and now my name is in the same article as him,” Levasseur said.

Croft, a former Concord detective, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking charges in 2021.

Early career end

Levasseur worked in the drug unit between 2014 and 2017.

In his resignation letter, Levasseur wrote that his law enforcement career was ending because of a late-night accident in May 2008. During a training exercise, then-Sgt. Steve Smagula, now a deputy chief, mistakenly fired his gun, shooting Levasseur in the chest.

Levasseur was wearing a bulletproof vest and was treated at Concord Hospital for scrapes and bruising. But he said it took years for his psychological scars to emerge, with symptoms like worsening panic attacks, insomnia from nightmares, and irritability that led his coworkers to call him “Angry Josh.”

He received an accidental disability retirement designation from the New Hampshire Retirement System in October 2017, when he was 35, because of his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

Smagula declined to be interviewed for this story but wrote that he wishes Levasseur well. A New Hampshire Attorney General investigation found that the shooting was an accident. No criminal charges were brought against Smagula. “I’ve spent the last 14 years trying to move on from that accident,” Smagula wrote in an email to the Monitor.

Not a ‘blacklist of bad cops’

Senior Assistant Attorney General Sam Garland, a civil litigator at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said that the list is a tool for prosecutors to identify the information they must disclose to maintain constitutional obligations to defendants.

“That’s why you’ll have information on the list that will be very egregious and information that will be more innocuous, information that a prudent prosecutor may feel the need to disclose in certain cases but certainly isn’t the more egregious conduct that came up in State vs. Laurie,” Garland said.

“It was never designed to be a blacklist of bad cops as it’s been portrayed.”

Levasseur worries that the list could be used to torpedo the career of an officer that an agency’s leadership dislikes. Although he does not believe that happened to him, he said he had been vocal in his belief that Concord Police had not adequately acknowledged the 2008 shooting’s effect on him.

“I think it’s interesting that I was kind of loud about not being necessarily happy about how things had been going,” he said.

Osgood wrote in an email to the Monitor that he believes the Concord Police Department acted appropriately after Levasseur was shot. The department offers mental health services to any officers involved in a shooting.

At the end of the day, Levasseur believes the Laurie List is necessary and should be public.

“There is an important purpose to that list because there are people who have done things that were wrong,” he said. “There are people that have deserved to be on it.”

Cassidy Jensen bio photo

Cassidy Jensen has been a reporter at the Monitor, covering the city of Concord and criminal justice, since July 2021. Previously, she was a fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University, where she earned a master's degree. Her work has been published in Documented, THE CITY, Washington City Paper and Street Sense Media. When she's not at City Council meetings, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains.

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