Carr, of Milford, to serve no jail time, will appeal conspiracy verdict
NASHUA – Colleen Carr, the 51-year-old former Milford real estate agent found guilty in October of three felony counts related to alleged arson conspiracy and subsequent alleged witness tampering, will serve no jail time as long as she remains out of trouble, a Superior Court judge said at Carr’s sentencing on Monday, Dec. 23.
Judge Jacalyn Colburn sentenced Carr, who denies she conspired to burn down the Milford Oval building she has owned since 1988 for insurance money, to 24 months in the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections on the conspiracy charge and one of the two witness tampering charges, all deferred on condition of good behavior and other stipulations.
She received an additional year of incarceration on the second witness tampering charge, also deferred upon meeting conditions. She was also given credit for 33 days she already served pending sentencing.
But Carr, while saying she is grateful for the no-jail-time sentence, said she will appeal the guilty verdicts “to clear my name.”
“I didn’t do this. I am not guilty,” Carr said after the court session as she gathered with family members and defense Attorney William Keefe outside the courtroom.
Colburn ordered Carr to stay out of trouble, have no contact with witnesses Conrad Kelleher and Maureen Riley and complete any programs the House of Corrections orders.
“What’s most important, Ms. Carr, is that you stay out of trouble,” Colburn said.
Earlier, Colburn told the court she struggled with her decision on whether to allow or deny Keefe’s motion to dismiss the criminal solicitation charge, which Keefe said was the product of “fatally flawed” indictment documents that were too flawed for the verdict to stand.
“I have ruled both ways in my mind as I thought about this,” Colburn said.
“I do think it’s a close call, and there’s no clear answer. The Supreme Court may very well come down differently,” she said, if Carr decided to appeal the verdict and sentencing – which Carr said after the session that she intends to do.
Colburn said that because the decision was a close call, she would rule that Carr serve the solicitation charge and one of the witness tampering charges concurrently rather than consecutively.
Keefe argued that the indictments for witness tampering should be just one, because the phone calls between Carr and Kelleher “were all part of (the series of) phone conversations. They’re not two separate crimes,” he said.
Prosecutor Leslie Gill countered that each of the three phone calls are “supported by different facts” and that two charges should stand.
Colburn agreed in denying Keefe’s motion.
Keefe spent some time submitting reasons why the conspiracy charge, which includes conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, should not be allowed to stand. “We never had one because we never had a loss,” he said, referring to the fact the alleged arson plot never materialized. “You need an actual crime to charge insurance fraud.”
Co-prosecutor David Tencza argued that the state filed the charge because the act of criminal solicitation to commit insurance fraud is in itself a crime.
“We discussed possible legal theories on this, and came up with what we did because it is the best fit for this case,” Tencza said.
Colburn, in denying Keefe’s motion, said that in the “final analysis, I have to come to the conclusion that primary offense is criminal solicitation. The jury found that she did in fact act with purpose to have that crime furthered.”
“The underlying crime still occurred, even if the crime was never committed,” Colburn added over Keefe’s objection.
Gill and Tencza asked Colburn to sentence Carr to one year in the Department of Corrections on the conspiracy charge and one witness tampering charge and three additional years on the other tampering charge, with 33 days credit.
Gill claimed that Kelleher and Riley have said they “are afraid” of Carr, and claimed that Carr “tried to deflect onto Kelleher and Riley” the responsibility for the crimes.
Gill acknowledged Carr’s clean record and long history of gainful employment and a career, but that doesn’t lessen the seriousness of the charges.
“These are very serious crimes,” she said, citing the fact a fire could devastate a large section of the Milford Oval because the buildings are so close together.
Gill also said the jury convicted Carr because she is guilty.
“She cannot avoid responsibility for this any longer,” she said. “The jury clearly didn’t believe her.”
Keefe cited the fact that even if she avoids jail time, Carr’s future is murky.
“There is much harm done,” he said. “She will certainly lose her certification as a real estate agent and auctioneer, which are a large part of her livelihood. She had lived there for 25 years, and had to sell the building, at a very reduced price, just before trial.
“Ms. Carr’s professional life is effectively over. The disruption for her and her family are enormous,” Keefe added.
In a brief but emotional statement, Carr reiterated her position.
“I did not do this. I’ve never done anything to hurt anyone,” she said.
“I was found guilty, but … I can’t try this whole thing again,” she said, breaking into tears. “I ask you to grant time served so I can go home to my family.”
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or email@example.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).