By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
The stalking trial against ex-Lebanon Police Lt. Richard Smolenski is delayed as the judge tries to sort out revelations that Grafton County investigated the accuser based on information from Smolenski.
The trial was set to start this week in Lebanon District Court, but instead Judge Michael Garner will review the independent report commissioned by the Grafton County Human Resources department that investigated Grafton County Corrections employee Nicole Cremo and another Grafton County employee.
According to court records, Smolenski told Grafton County officials that Cremo, the woman he is accused of stalking and harassing, was having an affair with another employee. This prompted county officials to hire an outside law firm to investigate the allegation.
Garner will review the report this week in a closed-door session to determine what, if any, information from that investigation can be used by Smolenski at trial.
Garner ruled that the investigative report is covered by attorney-client privilege and cannot be released. However, the interviews, recording, and other documents associated with the third-party investigation may be released after Garner’s review.
Smolenski has been looking to get evidence brought out in discovery in the criminal case public for months. Garner recently ruled that Smolenski can start making some of the discovery public, though he cannot use Cremo’s phone records.
Neither Smolenski’s attorney Anthony DiPadova, nor Cremo’s attorney Robin Melone, responded to a request for comment.
Smolenski threatened throughout the alleged stalking that he would release information about Cremo to her family, friends, and her employers in an attempt to harm her, according to court records. Now, he might get the court’s permission to do that.
Smolenski blew up a reported plea agreement last year when he refused to sign off on keeping the discovery sealed. Cremo told InDepthNH.org last year she did not like the proposed deal, but agreed to it in order to get her life back. However, after Cremo criticized prosecutors in the media for their handling of the case, the deal was pulled and prosecutors announced they would push ahead with a trial, potentially exposing Cremo’s private information to the public.
Smolenksi is charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend Cremo while he was on duty with Lebanon police, according to court records. He allegedly waged a campaign of harassment against Cremo, sending messages to Cremo demanding that she lie to his wife, or face him releasing intimate photos of her, according to the affidavit.
Cremo also told InDepthNH.org she feared Smolenski, a veteran law enforcement officer who had also served in the military, according to the affidavit.
During the alleged harassment, Smolenski used multiple social media accounts to target Cremo. At one point he allegedly created an account using Lebanon Police Officer Paul Gifford’s identity. Gifford would be suspended along with Smolenski, but he was later cleared during the investigation.
The investigative file shows Smolenski was cyber-stalking Cremo while in the Lebanon Police Department, and at his home.
Smolenski had been with Lebanon for years, working his way up to being the department’s prosecutor before he was fired in the wake of the stalking investigation. However, this was not the first time Smolenski broke the rules as a police officer over an affair.
Smolenski was disciplined for having an extramarital affair with an 18-year-old woman while on duty and in uniform in 2006. He received a three-day suspension and six months probation for the affair and sexually inappropriate emails he sent while on duty. He had also gotten involved in a harassment case involving the teen, and ordered someone with whom she had a conflict to stop harassing her, according to court records.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Public Interiority Unit is now reviewing the case of Scott Traudt, who served a year in jail after being convicted of assaulting a Lebanon police officer. Smolenski was a key witness in the trial. Traudt proved through a series of lawsuits and right-to-know requests that the state hid Smolenski’s 2006 discipline case even though it should have been handed over to the defense before Traudt’s 2008 trial.