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Eavesdropping on Fire Department No Solution to Burning Ears

NH - A former lieutenant in the Deering Fire Department 

who was at the center of a recent hiring controversy has been indicted on a felony charge of wiretapping staff conversations last year, including at least one senior-level meeting. 

Stephen Brooks, 39, allegedly placed a recording device inside the Deering Fire Station on or around May 29, 2012, and “recorded a period of time including, but not limited to, a meeting between senior staff of the Fire Department,” according to a direct indictment, issued May 15 by a Hillsborough County grand jury. 

Because it is a direct indictment, the case will bypass preliminary hearings and head straight to trial. Brooks has not been arrested, according to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine, who is handling the case. Valentine said direct indictments are typical when there has been a previous police investigation. 

An arraignment has been scheduled for June 21. 

Deering Town Administrator Craig Ohlson said the charge follows a “lengthy” investigation by the state police. He said Brooks, who faces as many as 31∕2 to 7 years in prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted, was fired from the department April 17. It’s unclear whether the termination was directly related to the wiretapping investigation. (more)

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