The Whistle Blower

Oct 22, 2012 - by Michael Volpe - 0 Comments

Gerard Beloin

When roofer Gerald Beloin blew the whistle on a multi-million dollar roofing scam in New Hampshire in 2002, he became a target for government retaliation rather than a hero. Well into 2013 he is still paying the price for his temerity.

by Michael Volpe

A roofer by trade, when Gerald Beloin came across a roofing scam in 2002 he subsequently discovered corruption at almost all levers of Hillsborough County government. At the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office he encountered grave indifference. The attorney general then was Kelly Ayotte, who is now a U.S. senator from the Granite State. 

Beloin said that in 2002, while preparing to bid on a job on the roof on his daughter’s school in Groffstown, not far from Manchester, he discovered that the roof was made of a material called tectum decking. Beloin felt this made the roof a ticking time bomb for caving in because of tectum’s sensitivity to moisture.

Beloin said he kept investigating and found that his competitors’ bids were far more expensive than necessary. On his website, he pointed to a Lowe’s roofing project in nearby Gilford, New Hampshire which he said cost a fraction of the bid on his daughter’s school. That project was 170,000 square feet and it cost $6 million. Meanwhile, the winning bid on his daughter’s school was $12 million and that project was for 25,000 square feet. Beloin’s own bid on that job was just under $5 million.

Beloin told Crime Magazine that this roofing scam was similar to others discovered in New Jersey, California, and Indiana. The whistle blowers in those cases are Diana Vice in Indiana, Janet Campbell in California, and Doug Wicks in New Jersey.

In New Jersey, the information gathered by Wicks became the subject of New Jersey Crime Commission report. In Indiana, Vice’s work earned her a Sam Adams “Sunshine Alliance Award” and led to a change in laws governing bidding on school roofing projects.

Campbell, speaking exclusively with Crime Magazine, said her work has made her comparable to another even more famous whistle blower: “They call me the Erin Brockovich of the roofing industry.”

All three told Crime Magazine that rather than being targeted, Beloin should be lauded the way they have as a watchdog of taxpayer funds.  But for Beloin, the opposite happened.

Upon discovering what he believed to a multi-million dollar waste of taxpayer money, Beloin said he took his concerns to school board president Dr. Craig Hieber. Beloin said Dr. Hieber was receptive and assured Beloin the matter would be fully investigated.

A couple months later Dr. Hieber died suddenly and mysteriously from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which could be caused by a bombing. ARDS is a catch-all term for when a person’s lungs fill with gas.

One reason that Dr. Hieber’s death remains mysterious is because of negligence by numerous medical officials in the immediate aftermath of his death, which became the subject of a civil law suit. According to the suit, Dr. Hieber’s wife, Sherry Hieber, sued the hospital where Dr. Hieber wound up the evening he died, Catholic Medical Center. She also sued for negligence the doctor who attended to her husband, Dr. Thomas D’Aprix. The case has since been settled and sealed, making the outcome not known to the public.

Another reason Dr. Hieber’s death remains shrouded in a cloud, said Beloin, is that no prosecutor in the State of New Hampshire, including then-Attorney General Ayotte, ever properly investigated Dr. Hieber’s death.

Beloin said that within a month of Dr. Hieber’s death he realized he was probably in the middle of something much bigger. That’s because Dr. Hieber was replaced on the Goffstown School Board by Kerry Steckowych. Steckowych wasn’t only now the school board president but also the prosecutor for Goffstown.

 

Shoot the Messenger

Beloin said that Steckowych, as the new school board president, dismissed Beloin’s concerns and awarded the roofing contract to one of his competitors. Beloin said the winning bidder was a friend of Steckowych’s. Crime Magazine attempted to contact Steckowych through the Goffstown Police Department, where he continues to be the town’s prosecutor, but emails were not returned.

Beloin said he began gathering information on Steckowych and his associates when about a year and a half later, his place of business was burnt to the ground in 2004. The local newspaper covered the story. The fire occurred in the early morning hours and destroyed Beloin’s entire warehouse. Paul Wyman, a spokesperson for the local fire marshal’s office, was interviewed for the story. In the article, he explained, “We still have a number of people to speak with. That’s why we’re calling it suspicious.”

Once his business burned down, Beloin said he began to secretly tape record his phone conversations with Steckowych, Streckowych’s associate John Janigan, and an unnamed informant, during which conversations they alluded to killing Dr. Hieber, having connections to Mafioso, bribery, extortion, and other intimidation.

In one recording for instance, John Janigan told Beloin that Goffstown officials were capable of trumping up charges against him. “They will treat you like a criminal,” Janigan said on the tape.

Beloin responded, “Well, I’ve done nothing wrong.”

To which, Janigan responded, “Well, they can dream it up.”

That’s extortion John! “ Beloin responded back.

I know. That’s why I’m trying to protect you by having him [Steckowych] stop chasing you,” fired back Janigan. He continued, “…because your precious body, your precious moments of this life on earth are more important (than) the few advantages you’re going to create for other people.”

In another tape, an unnamed “informant” suggests that Dr. Hieber was in fact murdered.

“Dr. Hieber, he knew everything and they said ‘We better get rid of him,’” the informant said to Beloin in another tape.

 

Stonewalling

Beloin, a resident of Hillsborough County, took these concerns first to the Hillsborough County prosecutor and then to Attorney General Ayotte’s office sometime in 2005.

At the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, Beloin said he was approached by chief investigator Michael Bahan. According to Beloin, when confronted with the tapes, Bahan told Beloin that Kerry Steckowych was Bahan’s friend and nothing untoward was going on.“Steckowych is a close personal friend of mine. If Steckowych is involved, there is no crime,” recalled Beloin of what Bahan told him.

Bahan is himself not without controversy. In the mid 1990’s, Bahan investigated the case of Judge John Fairbanks, who was accused of trading sexual favors for reduced jail sentences. Bahan’s investigation concluded that Fairbanks had done nothing wrong. Shortly after that conclusion, Fairbanks went on the run and eventually he was featured on the program “Unsolved Mysteries.”

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office (currently occupied by Michael Delaney) declined a phone and written request for comment.

The persistent Beloin said he also took his evidence to the office of New Hampshire Governor John Lynch sometime in 2006. The governor’s spokesperson, Colin Manning, said that the governor’s office was aware of Beloin’s case and that it had forwarded all material to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, then headed by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte. “This office has been contacted by Mr. Beloin, which referred (his case) to the Attorney General's Office.”

A phone call and email to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s press team was not returned.

 

Beloin Indicted

Rather than prosecuting the individuals on the tapes, Beloin was charged criminally and civilly with illegal wiretapping. First, Kerry Steckowych sued Beloin civilly. Then the Hillsborough County Prosecutor’s Office filed criminal wiretapping charges against him on August 18, 2005.

Prosecutors argued that Beloin taped others without their consent, making it illegal. Beloin, who throughout his long ordeal always represented himself in court, argued that because those on the tapes were committing crimes they had no expectation of privacy.

For instance, one recording already referenced earlier had Steckowych associate, John Janigan, implying extortion when he suggested that Beloin may face trumped up charges if he didn’t play ball. Other tapes suggested that Beloin’s own life might not be safe if he didn’t stop pushing the issue. In one recording, Janigan suggested that Beloin might be killed if he did not sign a cease-and-desist letter, i.e., ceasing any more investigation of Steckowych.

In this conversation Janigan attempted to explain the benefits of the cease-and-desist letter he wanted Beloin to write to him: “They’re worried now. This (letter) will take that heat off of you and you won’t have to worry about somebody shooting you some night. It’s to your benefit, I’m telling you. These guys…we may be a small town but we can think of some small towns where there are five or 800 people and things like this happen where they shoot them. You got 18,000 here!”

On June 9, 2006, Hillsborough County Judge James Barry Jr. dismissed with prejudice the wiretapping charges against Beloin, who represented himself without benefit of counsel at the hearing.  According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex, a dismissal with prejudice bars the government from prosecuting the accused on the same charge at a later date. The defendant cannot subsequently be re-indicted because of the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy. A dismissal with prejudice is made in response to a motion to the court by the defendant or by the court’s own order. In this case, the dismissal with prejudice was entered by Judge Barry

After the wiretapping charges against Beloin were dismissed with prejudice, Hillsborough County Prosecutors re-filed those charges later in the summer, 2006. At this point the vendetta against Beloin took a bizarre twist.

The case wound up again in the court of Judge Barry. On May 4, 2007, Beloin appeared before Barry as part of a routine hearing for the newly re-filed charges. Beloin, who was still representing himself, asked Judge Barry to dismiss the charges, saying, “You already dismissed these charges once with prejudice.”

Judge Barry responded, “I did not dismiss these charges.”

At Beloin’s trial in November of 2008, Judge Barry did not allow Beloin to play any of the tape- recorded conversations that demonstrated the intimidation tactics government authorities had used against him. A jury convicted Beloin of wiretapping charges.  He spent three days in jail.

Simultaneously, Steckowych sued Beloin civilly, demanding that Beloin cease to publish and immediately destroy the recordings. By this point, Beloin had started a website and downloaded these recordings on the site: http://gnbtaxpayers.com/RECORDINGS.pdf. Steckowych was demanding that these recordings be removed from the site immediately.

Steckowych was represented by Bill Shaheen, whose wife is the other U.S. senator from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen. Bill Shaheen didn’t respond to an email for comment for this article.

 

Beloin’s Vindication Short-Lived

Eventually, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled Beloin’s recordings legal. In his ruling New Hampshire Judge Richard Galway explained his reasoning: “There is nothing to enjoin this defendant [Beloin] from taking any action whatsoever.”

Still, Beloin’s own legal troubles were far from over. On February 27, 2009, Beloin was in the Hilllsborough County Courthouse on an unrelated issue when during the course of checking in a number of bags, a gun was discovered in his computer bag. He was charged with knowingly carrying a firearm in court, and carrying a firearm without a permit. (Beloin lost his right to carry privilege after he was charged with wiretapping charges).

The next day, his cash bail was set at $750,000. Beloin would remain in jail for nearly six months. Finally, in early June of 2009, New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn, faced with numerous allegations of misconduct among judges in Beloin’s numerous cases, dismissed the entire Northern District of Hillsborough County from hearing Beloin’s case, and moved the case to the Southern District of Hillsborough County.

On June 22, 2009, Judge William Groff, hearing the case from Southern Hillsborough County, reduced Beloin’s bail to zero and he was released immediately.

His case did not end, however, and in May 2011, Judge Diane Nicolosi, citing Beloin’s criminal record for wiretapping, sentenced Beloin to the maximum time allowed under the sentencing guidelines – seven years in prison– despite the fact that the Hillsborough County prosecutor, Kenneth Perkes, asked for only 20 days.

Beloin was in a New Hampshire prison from May 2011 until he was paroled on August 27, 2012.

 

Possible Inquiries

His case has raised several eyebrows in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Several representatives who spoke with Crime Magazine said they believe that Beloin has been unfairly targeted and several believe that Senator Ayotte is at least partially responsible for Beloin’s plight.“I think she did the wrong thing,” said New Hampshire State Representative J. P. Hoell of Kelly Ayotte in Beloin’s case. He continued, “She should have prosecuted those on the tapes,” meaning Steckowych, Janigan and the unnamed informant.

Daniel Itse, a Republican state representative and chairman of the Constitutional Committee, concurred. “He [Beloin] received telephone death threats. When he reports those death threats, he is the one investigated.”

Both Hoell and Itse along with State Representative George Lambert told Crime Magazine that they are concerned that Beloin had his original charges dropped with prejudice only to have them filed again. They want to know if Beloin was targeted by the New Hampshire justice system.

According to Lambert, the Redress and Grievances Committee will take up Beloin’s case early in 2013. The committee plans a full investigation including calling on a series of witnesses. Paul Ingretson, chairman of the Redress Committee, told Crime Magazine that he hopes Beloin’s case will serve as a blueprint to root out corruption so no one else faces the same situation.“Assuming that the system has been misused, making sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Ingretson of what he hopes the hearings will accomplish.

New Hampshire politicians have been so alarmed that members of three committees, Criminal Justice, Constitutional, Redress and Grievances, all appeared at Beloin’s recent parole hearing on July 5. They were there to make sure that Beloin did have his parole approved as expected.

In September of 2012, Beloin ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. House seat held by Charles Bass. He ran against Bass because the congressman refused to do anything about the charges of corruption Beloin brought to his attention in 2006. After Beloin lost the primary he ran for the seat as a write-in candidate. Bass easily won re-election in November. 

Beloin said that while in prison he finished a hand-written manuscript that he hopes will soon turn into a book. It’s currently titled, Menace to Society. He said that in the book each individual is given a nickname and Ayotte, Beloin said, is called the Mute. “That’s because she remained quiet even though on a number of occasions I approached her with these tapes and she refused to acknowledge them.”

 

More Prison Time

On November 1, 2012, Gerard Beloin was taken into custody after a random search by his parole officer found a hunting rifle in the home where he was staying. Because Beloin was on parole, he is strictly prohibited from carrying or maintaining any firearm. On January 8, 2013, Beloin appeared before his parole board and was sentenced to 90 days more in prison. Furthermore, the parole board refused to give Beloin credit for time already served. As a result, he is now scheduled to be released from prison on April 8, 2013.

 

Extra View Video

Speak Up! Host Kevin Avard sits and talks with author, investigative reporter, Michael Volpe from Chicago about the the trials of Gerard Beloin here in NH. Find out how this whistle blower is treated by the powers to be here in NH, such as the local prosecutor, and the State Attorney General's office run at the time by Kelly Ayotte. Michael Volpe is the author of "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall.

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