Plainfield Man Seeks Cash Seized During Murder-for-Hire Case

  • Maurice Temple, of Plainfield, N.H., looks toward the jury as they come down with a not guilty verdict on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H. The jury found Temple not guilty on charges of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, January 13, 2018

Plainfield — One month after a jury acquitted Maurice Temple on charges that he conspired to have his ex-wife killed, the 64-year-old Plainfield resident is back in his Old County Road home.

But he’s lost much of his snow removal business this winter.

His 83-year-old mother, Pauline Chase, was found not competent to stand trial in the case and continues to be held in the Sullivan County jail. Meanwhile, Temple is trying to get the state to return about $21,000 that police seized during the case, which involved allegations that he and Chase hired a hit man to kill Temple’s ex-wife.

Temple appeared for a hearing in Sullivan Superior Court this week and asked a judge to return the money to him.

That money could help in several ways, including with caring for his mother if she were allowed to return to the Plainfield home he and Chase have shared for some time. Where she will reside — either at home or in a facility on involuntarily confinement — is the subject of a pending evaluation.

In a phone interview on Friday, Temple said he is having trouble bouncing back following five months of incarceration, which harmed his excavating and plow business.

“They pretty much ruined my livelihood,” Temple said. “It’s a devastating thing.”

Temple said he lost all of his winter contracts, including a snowplowing contract with Walmart that he held for 19 years. He fears that advertising won’t do any good at this point.

“You just don’t come out of that,” Temple said.

A jury on Dec. 12 found Temple not guilty of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. Temple had been held on $1 million bail since his July 27 arrest, but he walked out of the Newport courthouse a free man that wintry December night. Chase was found not competent to stand trial in late November and Judge Brian Tucker, who presided over the case, ruled she is a danger to herself or others.

Temple said he went to the Sullivan County jail on the evening he was released and was able to see his mother.

“She didn’t look good at all,” he said. “I have never seen her look that bad.”

At first, she didn’t realize it was him; an examiner testified during court proceedings that she suffers from symptoms of dementia.

Temple said he hopes that his mother can come live at their Country Road home. He hasn’t been back to visit her because he doesn’t “want to get her all worked up.”

“She wants to come home and finish her days here,” Temple said. “I hope for that.”

Temple’s hearing on Wednesday followed a motion his attorney, Donna Brown, filed in court seeking the return of more than $16,000 found within the Old County Road home during the investigation, as well as the $5,000 prosecutors alleged Chase gave Plainfield resident and police informant Mark Horne to have Jean Temple, Maurice’s ex-wife, killed.

In the court filing, Brown said Maurice Temple is Chase’s power of attorney and is the person appointed to manage her finances. Testimony during the trial indicated that a majority of the money was found inside a female’s bedroom at the home.

In response to Brown’s filing, Deputy Sullivan County Attorney Justin Hersh said the state couldn’t say with confidence that Temple is the individual who should receive the currency on Chase’s behalf.

“ ... The state is concerned with exposure to liability for returning property to Mr. Temple that is likely Ms. Chase’s,” Hersh wrote.

Tucker, the judge, ruled later on Wednesday that there are questions about what part of the power of attorney document authorizes Temple to accept the funds, so he didn’t grant the motion to return the money to Temple. Tucker noted that Temple is in the process of applying for guardianship over his mother, a process that likely would clear up the situation and allow Temple to have control over the funds.

Brown said that process is ongoing.

“It’s not an issue about returning the money, it’s an issue about returning it to the correct person,” Hersh said on Friday.

A court clerk on Friday confirmed that Chase has a petition for involuntary admission pending, and that there will be a hearing on the matter on Thursday at the New Hampshire Hospital in Concord. The hearing is public.

Since his release, Temple has cleared up a second court matter. On Dec. 14, he pleaded no contest to resisting arrest, a misdemeanor charge leveled against him in June after police tried to take him into custody on contempt of court charges related to his divorce. He received a suspended sentence, according to court documents.

Yet Temple still has a pending civil matter. In October, Jean Temple, the postmaster in Plainfield, sued both her ex-husband and her former mother-in-law on one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is seeking $2 million in damages.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.