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Lebanon police lieutenant charged with stalking ex-girlfriend

  • Richard Smolenski (Grafton County Sheriff's Department photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/7/2021 2:40:52 PM
Modified: 5/7/2021 9:36:21 PM

LEBANON — A city police lieutenant has been charged with using fictitious online accounts to stalk a former girlfriend and threaten to release details about their sexual encounters, according to court documents.

Richard Smolenski, 43, of Bridgewater, N.H., pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count of stalking in Lebanon District Court on Thursday. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered not to come within 300 feet of his former girlfriend, Nicole Cremo, according to a bail order.

Following his arrest, Smolenski, who has been on paid administrative leave in July 2020, was placed on leave without pay on Thursday but technically is still employed with the police department.

Lebanon Police Chief Phil Roberts declined to comment on the pending criminal case against Smolenski or on his personnel status.

The charges stem from a series of emails and Snapchats — social media messages — sent from different accounts to Cremo in May 2020, at least two of which police believe are linked to Smolenski, according to an affidavit written by Lt. Frederic James of the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department, which investigated the case.

Cremo, who is the community corrections lieutenant for the Grafton County Department of Corrections, went to the sheriff’s department on May 14, to make a report about the emails and messages, explaining that she and Smolenski, who is married, had an off-and-on relationship between 2017 and 2020.

She told investigators that the two frequently communicated via social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

She told investigators that in March 2020, Smolenski sent her a message saying his wife had found a photo of her on his personal email and was asking about it. Cremo replied that she had never emailed Smolenski a photo and didn’t know how it got on his personal account, the affidavit said.

The emails between Smolenski and Cremo “show tension building between March and May 2020,” the affidavit said.

The first threatening emails came on May 13 from an account with the name “James Brennan,” who purported to be with the Bern Initiative and Madfish Corp., telling her to check her social media accounts, according to the affidavit.

Minutes later, on Snapchat, someone using the name Paul G wrote to Cremo saying, “If I was you, I would send an email apologizing for my poor decisions ... and that I know I shouldn’t have made up a story,” the affidavit said.

The user then forwarded an explicit audio file of a woman’s voice.

Cremo didn’t respond to the final message and, an hour later, received an email from the Brennan account again threatening to release documents, images and video files, according to the affidavit.

The email also included a message addressed to Cremo’s current partner that contained explicit information about Cremo’s relationship with Smolenski, according to the affidavit.

When she didn’t respond, Cremo received another Snapchat message, this time from a user named “Mike James,” claiming she had “30 minutes to send my friend an email,” the affidavit said.

Three hours later she received a similar Snapchat from another user named “Martin Franklin” and the following morning she received another email from the Brennan account with more explicit details about her relationship with Smolenski and threats to contact her current boyfriend, the affidavit said.

It appears that Cremo suspected Smolenski was behind at least some of the messages as she was receiving them. In response to one message from the Mike James account, she wrote: “revenge porn is a felony, Rich.”

On the afternoon of May 14, Cremo wrote a message to Smolenski, apologizing and received an email from the Brennan account saying the information will “no longer be released,” according to the affidavit.

She received a final message that night on Snapchat from an account called “James Taylor,” writing, “If you start a fire, prepare to get burned,” the affidavit said.

Cremo told police the emails “terrified her” and she was worried that the information would be released. She was also worried about her “physical safety, not knowing what Smolenski was capable of based on his training and experience,” the affidavit said.

Smolenski has a military background and was the tactical team commander for the Lebanon department, according to the affidavit.

James, the Grafton County Sheriff’s investigator, wrote that the messages from Franklin and from Taylor both came from Smolenski’s residence.

The Paul G account appears similar to a Snapchat account used by Smolenski’s fellow officer Paul Gifford, but an investigation showed that the account was created in the Lebanon Police Station on a day that Gifford was not working, but Smolenski was.

Gifford and Smolenski were both placed on paid administrative leave on the same day in July.

Gifford remains on paid leave, Roberts said.

Grafton County Sheriff Jeff Stiegler said in an interview Friday that Gifford has cooperated with investigators and they do not anticipate filing any charges against him.

Both Smolenski and Cremo declined comment when reached by phone Friday.

A future court date for Smolenski has not been set but Stiegler said his case will be moved to Belknap County to avoid a conflict of interest.

Smolenski, who had been paid his $99,000 salary while on leave, was involved in another high-profile case in 2008 when Strafford resident Scott Traudt was convicted of one count of assaulting an officer and one of disorderly conduct. He was accused of punching then-officer Phil Roberts and body slamming Smolenski during a traffic stop the previous year. Both officers testified at his trial.

Traudt sought a new trial last year saying one of the officers — though it has never been publicly documented as to which one — had a disciplinary mark on his record, making his testimony unreliable.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected Traudt’s bid in January.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




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