Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
David Campbell state representative ran over ~20 ducks, killing 5

Nashua, NH

Hillsborough County

December 23, 2013  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
one count of illegal taking of waterfowl   ~20 ducks Plea agreement  

A Florida man called police after watching a state representative from Nashua plow his BMW into a crowd of ducks outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, reportedly killing one or more of the birds, then exiting the scene before police arrived.

State Rep. David Campbell, was behind the wheel of the BMW that struck several ducks outside the Crowne Plaza’s main entrance late Monday evening.

“I hit some ducks,” Campbell said. “Some people were feeding ducks on the driveway in front of the Crowne Plaza at 10 o’clock at night … and they didn’t move, and I hit some ducks.”

Campbell said he feels “terrible” about it, but declined to comment further about what took place until a police investigation into the matter concludes. “I’d like to wait and see what they come out with,” Campbell said.

The incident was brought to light by retired U.S. Marine officer James Murphy, a Florida resident who was preparing to check into the hotel Monday evening when Campbell’s car collided with what he described as a pack of about 20 ducks in the road.

After flying into Manchester airport, Murphy took a shuttle to the Crowne Plaza. A group of ducks that inhabit the hotel grounds waddled up to the main entrance when he arrived, stopping beside his luggage.

Murphy said he had just tossed the ducks some crackers when he spotted Campbell’s dark sedan approaching from a side parking lot near the hotel entrance. “All of a sudden, this 5 Series BMW comes up, it’s going about 15 miles an hour, and then when he gets to the ducks, it’s not like it even slowed down,” Murphy said. “It just crushed all of the ducks.” Murphy said he believes as many as six ducks were killed and a handful of others returned to the pond at the Crowne Plaza with apparent injuries.

Appalled by the scene, Murphy said he followed the BMW a few dozen feet down the road and took a picture of the license plate when the driver stopped. He said a man wearing a navy blue suit with a white shirt and red tie got out, leaned against the side of the car and said words to the effect of, “The ducks should have moved.”

After exchanging words with the driver, Murphy said the man got back into his BMW and parked in the hotel’s nearby parking garage. Murphy said the man walked back toward the hotel, then headed toward the main entrance and left before he was interviewed by police. Murphy said he called police because he was struck by the driver’s indifference. “That was just a blatant disregard for just everyone involved,” Murphy said. “It was kind of a surreal situation here, like, ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’?”

The Crowne Plaza, on Somerset Parkway, has 178 guest rooms and offers a library, amphitheater and board room. The facility also houses a restaurant and bar called the Speaker’s Corner Bistro & Pub.

Campbell, a Nashua attorney, is serving his seventh term in the House, where he chairs the Public Works and Highways Committee. He also chairs the Capital Budget Overview Committee and the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee. Campbell graduated with honors from Harvard College and Suffolk University Law School, and is admitted to the bar in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to biographical information available on his legislative profile.

Murphy said he had no clue who Campbell was at the time of the incident. His first clue that Campbell holds elected office came as he was photographing Campbell’s license plate, which bears the seal of the New Hampshire House.

A copy of the photograph shows a Boston Red Sox bumper sticker on the back of Campbell’s BMW, which has the plate number 3-16 – a reference to Campbell’s seat on the House floor.

Nashua Police Lt. Mike Moushegian confirmed police were contacted about the incident at 10:08 p.m., but provided few other details. Moushegian said witnesses reported that a vehicle operated by Campbell struck and killed some ducks in front of the hotel. “We are conducting an investigation,” Moushegian told The Telegraph on Thursday. “It’s still an open investigation, and therefore I’m not going to release any specifics about it.”

Campbell declined to comment on why he left the hotel Monday night without speaking to police. He said he later offered to come down to the police station for an interview when he was contacted by authorities. “I talked to the police, and police are still investigating, and let’s leave it at that,” Campbell said.

New Hampshire law doesn’t require motorists to report hitting a wild animal, according to state Fish and Game Lt. Jim Juneau, a conservation officer supervising operations in five counties. Juneau said Fish and Game officers were notified Monday night about the incident, but it doesn’t appear they tried to render medical help, given the severity of the ducks’ injuries. “I don’t think there was anything that could be done at that point,” Juneau said.

Attempts to find out whether the injured ducks were cared for were unsuccessful. Representatives from the Crowne Plaza didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday. Nashua’s animal control officer was also unavailable for comment.

Update 1/10/14: A state lawmaker from Nashua has been cited for illegal taking of waterfowl after driving into a group of ducks last month and paid a $695 fine.

Rep. David Campbell, said Friday that the Nashua Police Department issued the violation, which he paid, as well as making a donation for the same amount to the New Hampshire Audubon Society.

Campbell again apologized and asked for forgiveness from anyone he offended and anyone who might judge him solely on the basis of an unfortunate accident. Campbell said he accidentally ran over the ducks Dec. 23 outside the Crown Plaza Hotel.

A witness who was feeding the ducks called police. Campbell said he reported the accident to the state Fish and Game Department.

Update 1/11/14: No contest plea: David Campbell says he is “extremely sorry and take(s) full responsibility for causing the death of five mallards.

Campbell made the plea at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division, and paid a fine of $620 for the violation, along with a $75 restitution payment to New Hampshire Fish and Game, says court records.

Campbell said he also donated an additional $695 to New Hampshire Audubon. “I continue to be extremely sorry and take full responsibility for causing the death of five ducks …,” Campbell said in a written statement. “My actions were unintentional, yet hurtful … I apologize and ask forgiveness from those I have offended, and from others that may judge me solely on the basis of this very unfortunate accident.” Campbell said that he had two drinks prior to the accident, but said they were consumed throughout an extended time during dinner. Campbell added that he was not intoxicated when he got behind the wheel of his vehicle to drive

According to court documents, Campbell was charged with one count of illegal taking of waterfowl for the December 23rd incident outside of the Crowne Plaza in Nashua.

Campbell, 56, of 10 E. Dunstable Road, had issued a previous apology for running over the ducks with his BMW when the act first made headlines. “This occurred while some people were feeding the ducks in the roadway nearby. I know it greatly upset them, as it did me. In spite of the accusations to the contrary, this was accidental, unintentional and deeply affected me then and now,” he said earlier.

Campbell has been at the center of the duck controversy for more than two weeks. Police began investigating Campbell after an out-of-state visitor who was feeding the ducks and witnessed the incident reported it to authorities, prompting city police to issue a violation against him on Thursday.

Campbell, who is currently serving his seventh term in the House, said earlier that he has cooperated with police, reported the accident to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and spoke with hotel management.

The violation charge against Campbell is a non-criminal charge, but has been recorded as a guilty finding, according to court documents. He was represented by Attorney Eric Wilson.

Update 1/14/14: Gov. Maggie Hassan is leaving it up to the state’s top law enforcement official to decide whether a state representative from Nashua and one of the city’s police commissioners acted improperly during an incident involving drinking, dead ducks and a discreet departure from the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Hassan said Monday that Attorney General Joseph Foster will determine whether any further investigation is warranted into the December 23rd incident at the Crowne Plaza, which resulted in a police complaint against state Rep. David Campbell.

Under Nashua’s city charter, the governor has authority to appoint police commissioners and remove them from office at any time. But through a spokesman, Hassan said she’s looking to Foster to decide whether to probe the circumstances.

Foster was non-committal Monday about whether his office will get involved. “All I can say about this is we’ve noted (news reports), and we are taking a look at whether it warrants further investigation or not,” he said.

Nashua Police Capt. George McCarthy said last week that police investigated all aspects of the case – including the fact that Campbell had been drinking before the incident – and determined illegal hunting was the most appropriate charge. “Sometimes circumstances prevent us from, you know, following through with determining certain things,” McCarthy told The Telegraph, “and it’s my understanding, in reading the investigation, that (Campbell) wasn’t available at the time to speak with us.”

Campbell told police he headed to the hotel lobby after striking the birds because he felt threatened by one of the witnesses. He then left on foot after being advised that police were on the way.

Campbell said he walked to his nearby law office and called Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas, who picked him up and drove him away from the area. Pappas maintains that he was initially unaware Nashua police were involved. Pappas said he only became certain of it when he called the police department on Campbell’s behalf at 12:15 a.m. – about two hours later. According to police records, Pappas spoke with a supervisor working the midnight shift.

“Pappas stated (that) David Campbell was a friend of his and was now at another friend’s house and that Campbell’s cell phone was dead,” a police report reads. Pappas claims that he asked the supervisor whether Campbell should visit the station. Pappas said he was told the officer investigating the incident had gone home for the night, and that Campbell should contact police in the morning.

A police report filed by the supervisor who spoke with Pappas appears to offer a different version of events. The supervisor indicated that it was Pappas who asked to have the meeting with Campbell take place at a later time. “He asked me if he could have Campbell come to the police department tomorrow to speak to Officer Hatzipetros,” the report reads. “I told him that Officer Hatzipetros works tomorrow during (second) shift … and that he should tell Campbell to call the department in the morning to leave a message for Officer Hatzipetros.” It’s unclear where Campbell spent the remainder of the morning. Pappas told police that Campbell was “at another friend’s house.”

During an interview on December 24th, Campbell told police that he received a ride back to his own home and stayed there for the night.

Eric Wilson, the Nashua attorney who is now representing Campbell, on Monday said that he does not know where Campbell spent the night. “I don’t know where he went,” Wilson said. “Probably home.”

Pappas refused to answer any subsequent questions from Nashua police, claiming that he was acting as Campbell’s attorney on December 23rd and that their conversations are protected by attorney-client privilege. “I represented David for many years, and it’s my belief that David enjoys attorney-client privilege with me,” he told The Telegraph.

As one of Nashua’s three police commissioners, Pappas holds one of the strongest oversight positions for the city’s police. Commissioners can appoint police officers and set their salaries, and they can remove any officer at any time for just cause.They also have full power to make all rules for the government of the police force. It’s for precisely that reason that Pappas said he doesn’t provide legal representation for clients in matters involving the department. The potential for conflicts between his role on the police commission and his clients’ interests is obvious.

Pappas said he ceased his involvement with Campbell after speaking with police on the morning of December 24th. “Once the officer, the desk sergeant, confirmed that they’re in fact looking for David and would like to speak with him, that’s when I – I haven’t contacted the police department about that since,” he said.

For the time being, Nashua’s other two police commissioners aren’t discussing the episode. Commissioner Thomas Maffee did not return a call Monday. Commissioner Robert Valade said he doesn’t have any concern at this time, but declined to offer a comment. “I haven’t had a chance to really talk to Commissioner Pappas about it, and unfortunately, because of that, I’m not in a position to make any comments at this time,” he said.

Meanwhile, some in Nashua are calling for more scrutiny. In a message sent Sunday to the attorney general, the head of the New Hampshire State Police, Department of Safety Commissioner John J. Barthelmes and a representative from New Hampshire Fish and Game, Nashua resident Lee Brucks called for a full investigation. “This is clear misconduct,” Brucks wrote. “Although the initial matter which drove the entire subject matter may seem somewhat trivial to some, this subject has done a complete spiral into … misconduct on [the] part of the Nashua Police Commissioner. It seems the only conclusive way to decide if misconduct took place is to have the Attorney General and or State Police look into this matter.”

Update 2/6/14: One of the police commissioners in Nashua, N.H., has resigned after helping a state lawmaker who drove into a group of ducks outside of a city hotel. Thomas J. Pappas resigned in a letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan on Wednesday.

Pappas says in the letter that he deeply regrets his part in the events on December 23, 2013, and apologizes to the governor, the Nashua Police Department and the public.

Rep. David Campbell, a Democrat, has been cited for illegal taking of waterfowl and paid a $695 fine.

Campbell had called Pappas for assistance after hitting and killing five ducks.

Update 2/6/14: Thomas Pappas is officially no longer the chairman, or a member, of the Nashua Police Commission.

The Executive Council, without comment, accepted Pappas’ resignation, eight days after he submitted his letter of resignation to Gov. Maggie Hassan. It followed his involvement in the December 23rd incident in which his friend, state Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, drove over and killed five ducks outside the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nashua. Campbell called Pappas and Pappas then picked Campbell up from the hotel where the night manager had described Campbell as drunk. Pappas then contacted the police department about two hours after the accident and asked whether Campbell could come into the station the following morning for questioning, according to a police report.

After details about Pappas’ involvement were revealed, two aldermen called for Pappas to resign.

In his letter of resignation, he says he is stepping down “with a heavy heart.” “I deeply regret my part in the events of December 23, 2013,” Pappas wrote, “and apologize to you, the Nashua Police Department and the public for the disruption that has occurred as a consequence of them.” He wrote that he will be “cooperating in any manner necessary with the investigation being conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.”

Update 2/13/14: A day after saying he would not seek re-election, a New Hampshire state representative who ran over a group of ducks is described in a state attorney general's report as giving untruthful statements and refusing to cooperate.

David Campbell, states his decision not to run again had nothing to with the incident.

Attorney General Joseph Foster said Thursday that Campbell, who called a city police commissioner for help after hitting the ducks, refused to cooperate. Foster, however, determined he couldn't charge Campbell with reckless operation.

Update 4/25/14: State Rep. David Campbell gave false statements to police after he struck and killed five ducks outside the Crowne Plaza hotel in December, but his actions did not rise to the level of new criminal charges, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office.

An investigative report released Thursday by the attorney general indicates that Campbell’s statements about his whereabouts and his ability to communicate with police after the incident were “untruthful.”

Campbell refused to cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation, which was launched in January.

After reviewing his conversations with police, investigators determined that some aspects were “simply not credible.” In particular, the report highlighted a claim by Campbell that his cellphone battery died during the time police were searching for him Dec. 23. In actuality, Campbell still was using the phone to communicate with then-Nashua Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas, even after Pappas told police that Campbell’s cellphone battery was dead, according to the report.

Campbell also told police he was given a ride home after striking the ducks. In fact, the attorney general determined that Campbell was dropped off at the home of a female friend on Danforth Road in Nashua’s South End.

However, state law doesn’t necessarily make it illegal to lie to a police officer, according to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young.

Young said investigators considered whether Campbell’s conduct violated laws against giving false reports to law enforcement or falsifying physical evidence, but determined that his actions weren’t prohibited by any existing statute. “It sends a horrible message,” Young said of Campbell’s statements to police.

The report was released one day after Campbell announced that he will not seek re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The Nashua Democrat denied any connection between the Crowne Plaza incident and his decision not to run for another term.

In a strongly worded statement released Thursday by his attorney, Campbell accused the attorney general of conducting an “exhaustive and unproductive fishing expedition” into his personal life, wasting taxpayer money in the process.

“This investigation and report seems more aimed at destroying Mr. Campbell’s reputation than the pursuit of justice,” wrote Gerry Prunier, Campbell’s attorney.

“There are 115 unsolved murders in New Hampshire. This report, regarding my client, consumed over a hundred hours of the state’s limited investigative resources and thousands of taxpayer’s dollars; and calls into question the priorities of the Attorney General’s office.”

The investigation revealed a new timeline for Campbell. Before he visited the Crowne Plaza, Campbell joined a small group of former New Hampshire legislators at Fratello’s restaurant in Manchester for an annual holiday gathering, according to the report. He arrived at about 5:30 p.m., ordered an alcoholic beverage and ate hors d’oeuvres before departing about an hour later, the report indicates.

Campbell then arrived alone at the Crowne Plaza bar at about 8 p.m. He was joined by three companions and ordered a lobster roll, a glass of wine and a glass of tequila, investigators determined. His whereabouts after he left Fratello’s and before he arrived at the Crowne Plaza are unknown, according to the report.

Campbell left the bar at the Crowne Plaza around 10 p.m. and drove his car through a group of ducks congregating in front of the hotel’s main entrance. He was confronted by witnesses, and a hotel security manager called Nashua police for assistance. Witnesses told police that Campbell asked to avoid having police summoned, saying either that it would ruin his life or that it would ruin his reputation, according to the attorney general’s report.

Pappas told investigators that he faced an ethical conflict after he picked up Campbell, his longtime friend. After listening to a voicemail message on his phone, Campbell told Pappas that Nashua police were seeking to talk to him. Pappas said he determined that the best course of action was to speak with police himself, and transport Campbell to the police station if officers needed to speak with him.

While passing by City Hall, Pappas recalled, Campbell remarked that it would “look bad politically that he had hit the ducks, but that it would be worse if he had been drunk,” the report reads. Pappas didn’t ask Campbell to explain the comment. Pappas drove to a three-story apartment complex off Daniel Webster Highway.

When Campbell exited the vehicle, he left what investigators described as a “cryptic” voice message on Pappas’ phone. “Tom, it’s David. I’m at a friend’s house on the South End,” Campbell said, standing only feet away from Pappas as he recorded the message. “Ah, please call me when you get a chance. But hurry up, ’cause my cellphone is dying.” Investigators concluded that the message “can only rationally be described as an attempt to suggest an alternative version of the events after Campbell killed the ducks and left the scene.”

Before Pappas drove away, Campbell told him that he considered Pappas to be his lawyer and that their conversations were protected by attorney-client privilege. Pappas – who does not practice criminal law – told investigators he has only represented Campbell once in the past, about 10 years ago, in a property transaction.

When he returned home, Pappas’ wife, Nashua Board of Public Works Commissioner Tracy Pappas, encouraged him to call police on the phone so the conversation would be recorded “Pappas’s wife recognized that Campbell had put Pappas in a terrible position,” the report reads. Pappas spoke with a sergeant and asked if it would be all right for Campbell to speak with police at a later time.

When he reflected on the conversation several weeks later, Pappas remembered leaving the decision in the hands of police as to whether Campbell should visit the police station immediately. However, after listening to an audio recording of the call, Pappas acknowledged that the conversation “differs from his distinct recollection,” and that he made no offer to have Campbell visit the police station.

The version of events provided by Campbell and Pappas was in many regards “simply not credible,” in the attorney general’s view. However, their actions didn’t give rise to any criminal violations.

Investigators also concluded that Nashua police did not abuse their discretion and were not influenced by the positions of influence held by Pappas and Campbell as they investigated the situation.

Ultimately, the attorney general agreed that illegal taking of waterfowl – the noncriminal offense to which Campbell earlier pleaded no contest – was the “most viable” sanction to bring against him.

Investigators also considered whether Campbell should have been charged with reckless driving, but determined it was “not a viable charge” given the width of the driveway at the Crowne Plaza and Campbell’s speed.

Investigators considered whether Pappas could be charged with “official oppression” or hindering apprehension, but determined that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pappas broke any laws by aiding Campbell.

In a statement released by his attorney, Pappas said he was “heartened” by the attorney general’s findings. He again apologized to the police department and the public for any disruption caused by his part in the Crowne Plaza episode. “Tom is a distinguished lawyer, public servant, community member, friend and, most importantly, a family man,” the statement reads. “All those that know him well, know that he conducts himself with honor, integrity and pride, both personally and professionally.”

Update 4/26/14: The attorney for Nashua state Rep. David Campbell, who ran over and killed five ducks last December, questioned why the state Attorney General’s Office spent so much time and energy on this case while 115 murders in New Hampshire remain unsolved.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young, who oversaw the investigaion, said the probe was important to determine “whether a sitting police commissioner who was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the (Executive) Council committed a crime involving their office.”

She said Campbell is to blame for making the investigation take longer. “What I would note is there was certainly a number of hours devoted to this investigation because Mr. Campbell decided not to cooperate with this investigation and that failure led us to take other investigative avenues that could have been shortened if he, like everybody else, had cooperated,” Young said.

Prunier said Campbell’s chief accuser, James Murphy, an out-of-state Southwest pilot staying at the hotel, “continually yelled, harassed and followed my client.” Prunier said Murphy allegedly said, “I am going to make you hurt like the ducks.”

The AG’s report said Campbell told a police officer that “Murphy threatened to make Campbell feel how the ducks felt.” But the report said no witness at the scene heard Murphy make that statement to Campbell.


The Nashua Telegraph The Union Leader