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No Verdict in McDougall Obstruction Case

Salem elected official facing a charge related to a June incident at his home.

Salem Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan did not issue a verdict in the obstructing government administration trial of Salem Budget Committee and Zoning Board of Adjustment Patrick McDougall Monday.

Sullivan heard a couple hours of testimony Monday and took the testimony under advisement.

McDougall was charged in July on the misdemeanor charge after an incident that took place in June involving his wife, Jane, who was suffering from a migraine headache and called 911 at their Tiffany Road home.

McDougall is alleged to have argued with responding Salem Fire personnel, and later Salem Police, regarding an ambulance ride to a hospital. Jane McDougall called 911 a second time regarding the need to go to a hospital, and eventually Patrick McDougall drove her to the hospital himself.

The charge was recently elevated to a Class A misdemeanor and carries up to a $2,000 fine and a year in prison.

The witnesses testifying Monday included Salem Fire dispatcher and former Fire Capt. Daniel Breton, Salem firefighter Bradley Palmer, Salem Police officers Matt Norcross and Scott Naismith, Salem Fire Chief Kevin Breen as well as Jane McDougall. Patrick McDougall did not take the stand.

Palmer, Norcross and Naismith were on the scene the night of the incident.

The most emotional testimony was offered by Jane McDougall, who had to stop several times while answering questions from Salem Police prosecutor Jason Grosky to compose herself.

She said several times the reason her husband did not want Salem Fire to transport her in the ambulance was because of the cost associated with the ride due to the family's lack of health insurance.

"We can't afford an ambulance bill," McDougall said. "I wanted to get to the hospital, I wanted to get to the hospital to get the medicine."

The tape of the second 911 call was played in court and McDougall confirmed it was her voice on the recording.

Grosky asked McDougall if she agreed she shouldn't have needed to call 911 twice to get her husband to drive her to the hospital and she agreed.

She also admitted to apologizing to Police and Fire outside her home after the incident, because, as Grosky stated using Jane McDougall's own words, "He was acting like an '(expletive).'"

McDougall's attorney, Neil Reardon, immediately objected to Grosky's comment before Grosky clarified that was Jane McDougall's own word.

The episode caused McDougall to sob on the witness stand.

"Please, I don't want to do this anymore," she said. She later confirmed she had used an expletive to describe her husband's actions that night.

Reardon later asked McDougall if her husband as a "calming effect" on her, to which she agreed.

Palmer testified there was originally no response at the door when he arrived on scene with fellow Salem firefighter Nate Breton. 

Eventually Patrick McDougall did come to the door and speak to Breton and Palmer in a hallway outside his apartment. Palmer testified after a short time McDougall went back into his apartment, closing the door in him.

"That's a lie," McDougall said while Palmer was testifying.

McDougall was scolded by Sullivan for his outburst, saying that if it happened again "you'll be in a remote location." McDougall apologized to Sullivan.

During the June incident, Palmer described Patrick McDougall as being "irritable" but said upon questioning from Reardon that McDougall never yelled or used profanity that night, which was consistent with other testimony from those on scene.

Norcross said upon questioning from Grosky that McDougall was not charged that night with obstructing government administration because they were concerned about his wife getting the help she needed, as well as the need to allow Patrick McDougall to stay with the couple's child.

Also, Norcross said he needed time to research and make sure the charge against McDougall would be the correct one.

"In my 19 years as a police officer, that's the first time I've ever charged anyone with that," Norcross said.

It was noted several times in court that McDougall told the responders that night an ambulance ride would cost him $800, but Breen said that was "overstated" given his understanding of the situation.

Breen also said he'd personally guided McDougall through the ambulance fee abatement process in the past which including for a ride he said took place in 2007.

On several occasions, Reardon brought up to witnesses McDougall's often biting public critiques of the budgets of the Police and Fire Departments, and witnesses acknowledged that to varying degrees.

Reardon and McDougall declined to comment on the proceedings after court was adjourned.

 one involving Breen and the other when Salem Police were attempting to serve McDougall's wife with a subpoena on the misdemeanor.

McDougall faces three felony witness tampering charges and misdemeanors of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct from those incidents.

SalemResident December 14, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I do have proof. I have been a witness and I have been a victim of the abuse. To be frank: It isn't worth risking my life over. Been there, done that.
Jake O'Donnell December 15, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Name calling is not permitted in comments on Salem Patch. I just rejected a comment that contained one. Thanks.
Tim McCarthy December 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Let's all get on with our lives! He didn't commit a crime so it is time to move on!
Tim McCarthy December 16, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Jake, Thank you! People are innocent until proven guilty. I hope and pray this all gets resolved so everyone can get this off our minds and enjoy the company of our loved ones! The holiday season is here and we have all gone through a tragic loss these last few days. We are neighbors, friends, brothers and sisters. It is time to mend fences and be glad we are all here. I hope and pray we all have a Merry Christmas or be happy in however you celebrate this season! Peace be with all of you!
F Jackie Marlow December 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM
1. People are innocent until proven guilty. 2. McDougall has be proven guilty 3. Time to resign from public office.

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