N.H. woman admits peeping at celebrities’ passport files

A passport specialist curious about celebrities has admitted she looked into the confidential files of more than 500 famous Americans without authorization.

Brooke Reyna pleaded guilty in federal court in Concord, N.H., to lying to investigators when confronted. The files contain photos and personal information and are protected by privacy laws.

Reyna admitted she had no official reason to look up applications for hundreds of actors, reality television contestants, musicians, athletes and members of their families over a four-year period.

The 28-year-old from Barrington is the 10th State Department employee to plead guilty in the investigation.


Couple says town had duty to keep tax arrests at bay

A New Hampshire couple sentenced to prison following a nine-month standoff with authorities over their federal tax-evasion conviction have sued the town where they lived, saying it should have prevented their arrests back in 2007.

Ed and Elaine Brown’s lawsuit says because they paid their Plainfield property taxes, the town should have shielded them from federal authorities. The couple, who insist the federal income tax is unconstitutional, holed up in their home after being sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. They’re in prison on conspiracy and weapons charges.

The lawsuit was filed last month in Sullivan County Superior Court.

Town officials told the Valley News they haven’t responded to the lawsuit yet, but they don’t think it will go far.

STOW, Mass.

Flight school owner, pupils in U.S. illegally, feds claim

The owner of a Massachusetts flight school and more than 30 of his students have been charged with being in the country illegally.

The owner of the TJ Aviation Flight Academy at Minute Man Air Field in Stow and the students received federal clearance to train as pilots despite strict security controls put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Some of the 9-11 terrorists trained in the U.S.

Those arrested are Brazilian. Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said immigration officials have concluded that they had “no nexus to terrorism.”

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration says the agency is investigating how allegedly illegal immigrants received pilot’s licenses.

The school’s owner denies he is in the U.S. illegally.


Puncher guilty, but not of killing dog-bark complainant

An Abington man accused of throwing a punch that led to the death of a former Marine who complained about his barking dog has been acquitted of an involuntary manslaughter charge, but convicted of a lesser offense.

Michael McGunigle was found guilty Thursday of assault and battery in connection with the July 2009 death of 48-year-old Brian Cherry.

Prosecutors say the 50-year-old McGunigle punched Cherry in the head outside an Abington coffee shop after Cherry asked McGunigle to control his dog. The animal, restrained in McGunigle’s SUV, was menacing passers-by.

Cherry struck his head on the ground and later died.

McGunigle’s lawyer argued that Cherry was the aggressor and McGunigle acted in self-defense.

District Attorney Timothy Cruz says he’s glad McGunigle was found responsible. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 12.


Plea expected from suspect in probe of police drug use

A key target in a drug-dealing investigation that led to the arrests of four Providence police officers has agreed to enter a plea as soon as next week to resolve the case against him.

John Coughlin, a lawyer for Albert Hamlin, said Friday that a plea of guilty or no contest could come as soon as Wednesday in Providence Superior Court. The amount of prison time Hamlin would serve as part of the deal has not yet been determined, though Coughlin said he expected the overall sentence to be capped at 20 years.

“At some point in time, we will end up pleading in this case,” Coughlin said, noting that while Hamlin’s next court appearance is Wednesday, his actual plea hearing might be postponed for scheduling reasons. “We don’t expect that we will have to go to trial.”

Hamlin was arrested in March as part of a State Police investigation into cocaine use by members of the Providence police department. Four police officers, including Hamlin’s brother Robert, have been charged as part of that investigation with either buying drugs from Hamlin or with helping him avoid arrest.


Damaged wind tower to be repaired by year’s end

A wind-powered generating tower in the southern Vermont town of Searsburg that was damaged two years ago by high winds and lightning should be fixed by the end of the year.

GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure says the timing of the repair will depend on weather conditions.

The damaged tower was installed in 1997, one of 11 erected in Searsburg.

Schnure says it took so long to repair the damaged tower because that size is no longer being manufactured


Selectmen balk at allowing public to read board’s mail

Is a letter sent to an elected official a public document?

It’s a question being asked in the town of Winchendon, where a recently adopted policy puts all mail sent to the Board of Selectmen into a confidential file that can only be opened and read by board members.

The town’s legal counsel has warned the policy violates the state’s open records law, but selectmen say they have no plans to change it unless ordered to do so.

The Gardner News said in a story published Friday it requested to view mail sent to Town Hall, but was denied.

An official of the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office told the newspaper that mail should be considered public with certain exceptions.