Portsmouth Police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin fired (NH)

PORTSMOUTH — Subject of a disputed $2.7 million inheritance, police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin was fired Wednesday, announced Police Chief Stephen DuBois and Police Commission Chairman John Golumb.

Goodwin was terminated from his position with the Portsmouth Police Department by DuBois, “with the full support of the Portsmouth Police Commission,” it was announced in a press release to the community and area media.

“The decision comes after extensive review of the findings of the Roberts Report and careful deliberation over six meetings beginning on June 2,” it was announced.

“This termination is only one of many changes that we have made and will continue to make as we seek to close what has been an unfortunate chapter in the otherwise proud history of the Portsmouth Police Department,” DuBois and the commission announced. “We wish to thank the citizens of Portsmouth and the men and women of the Portsmouth Police Department for everyone’s patience.”

Goodwin is accused in the Strafford County probate court of exerting undue influence over the late Geraldine Webber, while she was impaired by dementia, to inherit most of her valuable estate. The Roberts Report referenced by the chief was published earlier this month by a panel led by retired Judge Stephen Roberts and funded with $20,000 approved by the City Council.

The report noted that Goodwin violated three regulations in the Police Department’s Duty Manual and three regulations in the city’s Code of Ethics, all pertaining to his inheritance.

Goodwin denied the allegations during a two-week hearing in the probate court last month and said he provided Webber with comfort and care during the end of her life. He said he never told his elderly benefactor that he couldn’t accept her house, car, stocks and bonds because he’s a police officer. Instead, Goodwin testified, “My long stance with her was to just do whatever makes her happy.”

He testified that he told Webber he’d help her find a lawyer to change her will if it made her happy and that if it made her happy to leave him her valuable stocks and bonds, then she should do that.

Goodwin’s contested inheritance diminished inheritances to two medical charities and the city’s police and fire departments, which were each one-quarter beneficiaries in Webber’s prior will.

During the probate hearing, Goodwin confirmed that he referred to his relationship with Webber as like a mother and son. But he said he also knew that Webber told an investigator with the attorney general’s office, on Feb. 1, 2011, that he “could move in with me anytime” and that she was “in love with him” so she wanted to give him her house.

Evidence presented during the probate hearing showed that Goodwin met Webber while he was on duty and that he had 6,328 minutes worth of phone calls with Webber, on his cellphone only, from the time he met her in 2010, until her death in December 2012. Goodwin said he took Webber out for cocktails and to casinos and during a previous deposition, said he regularly buttered Webber’s banana-bread toast and helped her count cash she kept in her waterfront home.

Goodwin said that in January 2011, he told former police chief Lou Ferland that Webber wanted to give him her house and Ferland responded by telling him to keep their relationship off-duty. But Ferland testified during the probate hearing that he didn’t learn about the inheritance until after Webber’s death.

Attribution:

Portsmouth Police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin fired
Chief DuBois announces termination, with ‘support’ from Police Commission
Elizabeth Dinan
June 24, 2015
SeaCoastOnline.com
http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20150624/NEWS/150629513

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