Safety Commissioner Quinn Renominated Despite Whistleblower Complaint

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Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn


CONCORD – Robert Quinn has been renominated to lead New Hampshire’s Department of Safety despite concerns about his leadership including an accusation he illegally directed employees to run an improper background check.

“I don’t understand how Gov. Sununu can renominate this man,” said Andrea Amodeo-Vickery, the attorney for whistleblower Tiffany Foss.

Foss, a former supervisor at the state’s Gun Line, is seeking whistleblower protection from Quinn after she alerted supervisors to the illegal background check.

Quinn has been in the top spot at the Department of Safety since 2019 after he led the New Hampshire State Police.

His time in one of the most powerful positions in state government has seen an exodus of troopers, a degradation of State Police equipment, and scandals including the mishandling of evidence in a double-murder.

Rob Morin, a private investigator and former career police officer, tipped off Sununu and members of the Executive Council last week about the problems with Quinn’s tenure and his leadership team, but Morin’s warnings seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

“It is clear the Quinn, (Col. Nathan) Noyes, (Major Matt) Shapiro et al. experiment has been an abject failure, and the Division is being wildly mismanaged. It is well past time for this regime to meet an unceremonious end. The equation is simple:  Either they go, or the Division continues to plummet into failure,” Morin wrote.

Foss filed for whistleblower protection with the Department of Labor in December, saying she fears Quinn’s retaliation after she complained about the illegal background check Quinn allegedly ordered, as well as his directive to rush through gun background checks. The Department of Safety is trying to get the complaint dismissed.

“The evidence that Tiffany Foss has in her possession is clear and convincing that Commissioner Quinn violated the law and ordered his people below him to get information on a Massachusetts matter that involved a personal friend of his,” Amodeo-Vickery said. “It’s a clear violation of the law.”

In fact, two New Hampshire police officers have been prosecuted in the last six months for running illegal background checks. Last month, the New Hampshire Department of Justice announced that former Franconia Police Officer Gary Pilotte was forced to give up his police certification and agree to never seek employment in law enforcement again as part of the deal reached with the Attorney General’s Office over his alleged illegal search. In December, the Attorney General’s Office reached a similar deal with former Ossipee police sergeant Justin Swift, who was also accused of misusing the background check system.

Ben Vihstadt, spokesman for Sununu, said the Foss allegations have already been dealt with by the state.

“Several months ago, our office was in touch with the Attorney General’s office and confirmed that the matter had been thoroughly reviewed and that no further action was warranted,” Vihstadt said.

Morin’s letter lays out several problems ongoing in the State Police: the agency is understaffed by 80 to 100 troopers; the State Police cruisers are unroadworthy, and many have rotting frames; troopers are forced to share uniform shirts due to shortages; and many in leadership are working part-time from home.

Morin also states the agency is covering up the mishandling of evidence in the Farmington double-murder of Christine Sullivan, 48, and Jenna Pellegrini, 32.

The trial of the accused murderer, Timothy Verrill, ended in mistrial after revelations that prosecutors didn’t turn over a large amount of required evidence to the defense before trial.

According to Morin’s letter, one of the troopers who mishandled the evidence lied during an internal investigation about the mishap. That trooper was later promoted within the agency to the Professional Standards Unit, which conducts internal investigations, Morin claims.

“When the people who are holding others to a standard for integrity are unable to meet that standard themselves, the organization fails,” Morin wrote.

Vihstadt did not respond to a question about Morin’s letter. Amodeo-Vickery said it is not clear why Quinn is getting a pass on his actions even as serious questions are being raised.

“Somebody’s not paying attention,” she said.

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