By Patrick McDougall
The Union Leader
SALEM, N.H. — Budget committee member Patrick McDougall was found guilty of obstructing government administration and faces up to a year in county jail for preventing emergency medical workers from transporting his wife to the hospital after she repeatedly called 911.
McDougall, 37, will be sentenced in 10th Circuit Court in Salem on the misdemeanor charge at a separate hearing. He still faces felony charges now pending in superior court. The decision issued late Friday by Judge Michael Sullivan rebuked McDougall's claims that he was only protesting a hefty and unnecessary ambulance bill because he had no health insurance.
Sullivan said in a two-page decision McDougall's defiant behavior "was less motivated by financial concerns, but more an antipathy toward the EMTs and police officers who tried to get medical help for Mrs. McDougall."
McDougall's defense at trial last Monday suggested he was a victim of political payback for being a frequent critic the police and fire department budgets, who even advocated for privatizing Salem's ambulance service.
McDougall's wife, Jane, called 911 shortly before midnight on June 25 because of an ongoing sinus problem that gave what she described as exceptionally painful migraines.
When paramedics got inside the apartment building where the McDougalls lived, Patrick McDougall told the rescue workers that "there's no problem at this unit," according to court testimony.
McDougall eventually let EMTs in his apartment but forbid them from taking his wife to the hospital.
Jane McDougall told EMTs she wanted to go the hospital, according to her testimony.
Patrick McDougall told EMTs that "his wife was exaggerating her medical condition," Sullivan said.
McDougall's wife called 911 a second time to request an ambulance ride, telling a dispatcher that her husband was arguing with the firefighters at her home. She later signed paperwork saying she was refusing treatment after speaking privately with her husband.
After Salem police arrived, McDougall ultimately agreed to drive his wife to the hospital. He was charged days later with the misdemeanor offense.
McDougall was arrested again on Aug. 31 on three counts of felony witness tampering, and misdemeanor counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct.
McDougall allegedly told Salem Police Officer Matthew McKenzie on Aug. 26 that his wife was not awake and couldn't receive a subpoena related to his court case.
McDougall slammed an apartment door in the officer's face, but his wife came out and accepted the court paperwork, police said.
A few days later on Aug. 31, McDougall went to the Central Firehouse on Main Street demanding to speak with fire Chief Kevin Breen - a state witness - and quickly became confrontational.
Before leaving, McDougall walked by Breen and turned to him, getting within a foot of the chief's face, police said. At McDougall's trial last week, the fire chief testified that McDougall was aware he could have applied for a financial waiver for the cost of the ambulance ride.
Breen testified he had helped McDougall personally apply for one before. McDougall, who also sits on Zoning Board of Adjustment, was convicted of a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months behind bars and a $2,000 fine. Prosecutors have not yet said what kind of sentence they will ask for.
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