April 6, 2011

Salem official refuses to quit board

Jeffrey Gray, formerly of Salem, and his lawyer Mark Stevens, hear from a Salem District
Court judge during Gray’s probable cause hearing Tuesday.
Union Leader Correspondent
SALEM  -- The Salem town official accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he met on Craigslist waived his probable cause hearing on Tuesday and will await a grand jury indictment in jail.
Salem Planning Board member Jeffrey Gray, 48, has been
 held on $50,000 cash bail at the Rockingham County jail in Brentwood since his March 29 arrest. He appeared for a probable cause hearing in Salem District Court on Tuesday.
Gray was originally charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and sexual assault along with misdemeanors of simple assault, obstructing the report of a crime and false imprisonment.

But as the case moves to Rockingham County Superior Court, Windham police prosecutor Heather Newell asked a judge Tuesday to drop the misdemeanor charges at the district court level.

“It’s not that (the charges) aren’t going to be brought forward, but we nolle pros them here and send them to Superior Court,” said Newell after Tuesday’s hearing. “There will
 then be one complete trial in superior court.”

Windham police say Gray held a 35-year-old woman from New York captive in a home he was renting in Windham and sexually assaulted her over the course of three days earlier this month.
Police say he met the woman on Craigslist, after he answered a listing she had posted looking for a roommate in New England.
All the documents associated with the case have been sealed, including a motion to seal records filed by Windham police on March 28.
A joint motion to unseal the documents was filed by the New Hampshire Union Leader and The Eagle-Tribune on March 30, but a judge has yet to rule on the request.
Though Gray is said to have been living in a rented home in Windham, the longtime Salem resident is still a member of the Salem Planning Board.
Last week, Salem Planning Board Chairman James Keller said he — speaking through Salem town officials and
 Gray’s attorney, Mark Stevens of Salem — asked that Gray resign his position on the board. Stevens said Tuesday that Gray has refused to give up his post.
“He’s not going to quit,” Stevens said. “He just wants to carry out the term that he was elected to do. He’s not a quitter.”
Gray’s term is set to expire in March 2012.
Keller said that the town has sent Gray an official request asking him to prove his Salem residency by next week.
If Gray does not show that he lives in Salem, Keller said that the Planning Board can remove him from the position and fill the post with a temporary member until the March election. But if Gray does prove that he is a Salem resident, Keller said he will likely still ask Salem selectmen to remove Gray from the board.
Either way, Keller said he hopes the situation will be resolved
 quickly. “This certainly casts a pall over the board, which is unfortunate. If anyone knows
 me and my long tenure on the board, one thing that’s been of paramount importance to me is our integrity and the hard work we perform,” Keller said. “... That’s the primary reason to remedy this as quickly as possible. We have important work to do, and I don’t want distractions nor do I think the people of Salem want distractions.
“But he is an elected official, and we have to take that very seriously,” Keller said. “Removing an elected official from office is not an insignificant event, so we just have to be sure we’re following protocol.”
Gray is also the owner of J.M. Gray & Associates, a land surveying company he ran from his Salem home.
While Gray is no longer a member of the New Hampshire Land Surveyors Association, he served as the group’s vice president for a short time in 2009, said association president Bryan Bailey of Gilford. Bailey said Gray resigned from his post that year for unknown reasons.

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