Former Claremont officer threatened violence, recently released records say

Claremont City Councilor Jonathan Stone, left, watches votes being counted with incoming city councilor Jonathan Hayden, in the background, at City Hall in Claremont, N.H. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. Hayden defeated Stone for the Ward III seat 247-241. Stone asked for a recount of the results, which did not change. At lower right is Ward III Moderator Bill Blewitt counting votes. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Claremont City Councilor Jonathan Stone, left, watches votes being counted with incoming city councilor Jonathan Hayden, in the background, at City Hall in Claremont, N.H. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. Hayden defeated Stone for the Ward III seat 247-241. Stone asked for a recount of the results, which did not change. At lower right is Ward III Moderator Bill Blewitt counting votes. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck—Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-08-2024 8:21 PM

CLAREMONT — A state legislator who boasts of being “tough on crime” when he was a Claremont cop in the early 2000s openly talked about killing the city’s police chief and raping his wife, and staging a mass shooting at the police station, according to the officer’s employment records that were ordered released by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The records also detail how Jonathan Stone, a state legislator representing a House district made up of Claremont and eight other communities, was found to have repeatedly socialized with a 16-year-old girl while on-and-off duty, including discussions about going to bars together when she was old enough to drink legally.

The revelations are contained in Stone’s police department disciplinary records which he fought for years to keep private.

Last month, the state’s highest court ruled Stone’s records are not exempt from public disclosure.

According to his file, Stone failed a polygraph exam administered to him by investigators, and investigators said his answers to specific questions were marked by “selective memory” as in some instances he gave detailed answers while to others he replied, “I don’t recall that” or “not that I recall.”

The documents — portions of which are redacted to protect witnesses’ identities — paint a portrait of a police officer who repeatedly threatened violence against his colleagues. Fellow police officers expressed concern Stone could go “postal,” with one even telling investigators that following a confrontation with Stone he stayed up “late at night with a loaded shotgun” listening for cars, afraid that Stone would attack him and his family.

“If he gets fired, people are afraid he will go postal,” one detective told investigators during the 2006 investigation that had been opened into Stone’s behavior. Top brass of the Claremont Police Department had been informed that Stone was threatening violent attacks against then-police chief Alexander Scott, his family and other police officers.

“Generally, people think he is crazy and wonder why he is a police officer,” the investigation paraphrased the detective reporting.

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This week, Stone’s attorney, Peter Decato, noted that Stone had resigned under a “negotiated agreement” with the city and that statements made by fellow police officers reporting Stone’s behavior when he was a police officer have never been adjudicated.

“Jon Stone’s personnel records go back 17-plus years. They are full of unproven ‘factual allegations,’ ” Decato said via email on Monday. “Whatever is disclosed should have a very large asterisk next to it.”

“The City of Claremont did not terminate Jon’s employment; rather, the City of Claremont found it to their advantage to enter into an agreement with Jon. As a result of that agreement, Jon resigned. The advantage to the City of Claremont is that they didn’t have to prove what is written in these records,” Decato said.

Stone did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday.

Democrats, hoping to leverage the tawdry revelations in Stone’s personnel records to flip the slim GOP majority in the New Hampshire House, wasted no time in denouncing Stone, a Republican who in the past has expressed support for GOP front-runner Donald Trump, as unfit to serve in public office.

“The disturbing report on State Representative Jon Stone’s dangerous and out-of-control behavior — which he tried to hide from the public for years — raises serious concerns about Stone’s position on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and leaves no doubt that Stone is unfit to serve the people of Claremont,” Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said in a statement on Monday.

The revelations about the internal investigation into Stone quickly went viral across social media over the weekend after Damien Fisher, the journalist who challenged city officials to release Stone’s records under the state’s right-to-know law and who was later joined in his legal fight by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire and the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, was the first to report the contents of the records via InDepthNH on Friday evening.

Scott, who retired from the Claremont Police Department in 2017 and is now an attorney in Claremont, said on Monday that “the documents speak for themselves. I really have nothing to add.”

He noted that, “this is something that happened 18 years ago.”

The 2006 investigation, launched after a Claremont Police Department captain reported to his superiors that he had received “information from a source who requested to remain anonymous,” that Stone was making statements to fellow officers about killing the chief and assaulting his wife in addition to “terrorizing comments about backing a truck up to the door of the Police Department and killing employees inside.”

Stone had “spoken of a list” of people to kill in addition to a list of people to call to warn them to stay away from the office; he was observed by numerous department personnel to act as if he was screwing on a silencer attachment to an assault rifle, which was seen as a threatening gesture, the investigation said.

The internal investigation was based on interviews with 18 people, 15 of whom were Claremont Police Department personnel. Of those 15, the vast majority told investigators that they had heard Stone threatening physical violence and it unsettled them.

All the Claremont Police Department witnesses are identified by name in the investigation report.

The personnel records released by the city are comprised of two investigations: one into Stone’s comments made to colleagues threatening violence; and a second into Stone’s socializing both through texting, phone calls and meetings with a 16-year-old girl who was being referred to as a “rat” by schoolmates who were aware of her relationship of Stone.

Stone met the teenager numerous times, investigators found. The teenager, when interviewed by investigators, denied the more salacious rumors about the relationship that were circulating among high school students.

But acknowledged “a plan they have when she turns 18. The plan for when she turns 18 is that she and Officer Stone would go to Canada where it will be legal for her to drink. They have also spoke about going to a bar when she turns 21,” the investigation found.

In his interview with police investigators, Stone acknowledged that he talked with the teenager girl frequently — sometimes up to an hour or more — but said every time they met she was always with friends and they never met alone.

When investigators asked Stone about the nature of his relations with the 16-year-old girl, he described it as a friendship. He said the plan to go with her to Canada to drink when she turns 18 was the girl’s idea and that he “plays along or agrees with it with laughter,” the report said.

“When asked if going to a bar when a 16-year-old person turns 18 is an odd conversation, (Stone said) that it’s just a general conversation, nothing set down,” investigators reported.

Investigators, however, reported that Stone and the girl had conversations about sex with the girl sharing with Stone details about her sex life and “being cheated on while being in a relationship,” according to the internal report.

Stone also acknowledged that the teenage girl had told him she loved him but that Stone “stated that when she talks like that it is more as a friend and it does not concern him, but then admitted she may have a crush on him,” the investigation said.

Both investigations — the one into Stone’s threats of violence and the other into his relationship with the teenage girl — concluded that Stone had not been truthful in his responses to investigators’ questions and recommended his “removal from office,” according to the documents.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.