Ex-Rep. Merner Files Motion To Dismiss 3 Criminal Charges, Plea Negotiations Ongoing

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Republican former state Rep. Troy Merner.

By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org

Former Republican Rep. Troy Merner’s lawyer filed a motion to dismiss three of the four criminal charges against him Sunday related to serving in the New Hampshire House during the whole last session after moving out of his Lancaster District, which is prohibited under the state Constitution.

Merner and his lawyer, state Rep. William Dolan, D-Nashua, and Assistant Attorney General David Lovejoy representing the state, appeared by Webex from Grafton Superior Court Monday for a status conference where the judge ordered one hour set aside for mediation on July 1.

“The above listed charge IDs should be dismissed because these charges cannot be tried in Coos County… (A)s alleged by the State, the conduct here did not occur in Coos County,” Dolan wrote in his motion to dismiss.

“The State cannot mistake ‘related to’ or ‘defendant lives in’ with the language of the New Hampshire Constitution which is ‘committed in,’” Dolan wrote.

Dolan wants dismissed the charges accusing Merner of misrepresenting on House mileage cards that he resided in Lancaster when he lived in Carroll, resulting in receiving greater travel reimbursements from the state than he was entitled to.

The others involved misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records for allegedly falsely reporting his address on a House mileage card.

Dolan didn’t challenge the venue for the single felony indictment against Merner alleging wrongful voting because that involved voting at the March 8, 2023, Lancaster town election in Coos County after moving to Carroll.

It appeared from the brief hearing Monday that the state and defense are still in the process of negotiating a plea agreement, but details weren’t mentioned.

“The defense is still amenable to mediation” if the July 1 date was still available, Dolan said.

Lovejoy said the state would respond to the motion to dismiss, but indicated that plea negotiations are ongoing.

The state received a counter-offer and was in the process of evaluating it, Lovejoy said.

“Hopefully we can make some headway in plea negotiations before that,” Lovejoy said relative to the July 1 mediation date.

 The charges against Merner became controversial in the closely divided House with only a tiny majority maintained by the Republicans of the 400 members.

Merner allegedly told people the Republican leadership knew he was living out of district but told him to continue on because they needed his vote.

The Attorney General’s Office released its investigation into Merner last year that showed the GOP House leadership was told about Merner’s move before the session started. But House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, insisted he believed Merner when he said he maintained a Lancaster residence.

Second House Rep.

Packard didn’t respond to a request for comment when the Attorney General’s Office last week released a Feb. 9 letter indicating former state Rep. Dan Hynes, I-Bedford, appeared to be living out of district from September of 2023 to Feb. 9, 2024. Hynes resigned from the House the same day the Attorney General’s Office notified Packard and Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm of its investigative findings into Hynes’ domicile.

“Based on this office’s investigation, Rep. Hynes does not appear to be domiciled in the Hillsborough 2 District (Bedford),” wrote Assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell in the Feb. 9 letter. No charges were filed against Hynes.

Neither Packard, nor Wilhelm, D-Manchester, told the public about domicile issues with Hynes, an attorney who changed his political affiliation last summer from Republican to Independent.

The Feb. 9 letter can be read here: https://indepthnh.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Letter-to-House-re-Hynes-domicile_Redacted-1.pdf

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