Their responses, he said, ranged from a "smirk" and a warning to stay out of it, to an explanation about an "ax to grind" that police officials had at the time. One commissioner said "good for them" if the officer and his lawyer could get some of the neighbor's "ton of money," Connors said.
A 42-year member of the Portsmouth Police Department, Connors made these remarks during a Feb. 26 deposition, as part of a probate dispute contesting the $2.1 million estate of the late Geraldine Webber, who left most of her wealth to Portsmouth police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin. A judge will decide whether Webber was competent to endorse her last will and trust and whether or not Goodwin exerted undue influence over her.
Connors said during his deposition that he told one police commissioner he thought Goodwin was "ripping off" Webber. He said he talked about his suspicions daily at the police station and that he advised Webber's former lawyer, Jim Ritzo, to get a restraining order against Goodwin because "he's up to no good."
"When I made my complaints to the Police Department and the higher ups," Connors said, "nobody would listen to me."
"I didn't go public or talk to anybody for like two-and-a-half, three years, not until this past August, because I tried to get the guys at the PD to get this taken care of by themselves," Connors is quoted in a transcript of his deposition. "I didn't want this going public. I didn't want this on the PD, as bad as it was looking, because 95 percent of the guys that work there are the greatest guys in the world. You got a handful that aren't OK, and that's what this is all about."
Connors was introduced at his deposition as a Portsmouth police officer who retired in 1995 and continues to work as a sergeant in the auxiliary division.
"This is something that I've been living every day of my life for the last four-and-a-half years," said Connors, who told lawyers at the deposition that he kept detailed notes about what he saw at Webber's house next door.
He said it began in late 2010, when he was at the police station, where a couple of officers mentioned they were at Webber's house the prior night for a call about a prowler. Connors said he told the officers he was sure there was no prowler, because Webber had dementia and was seeing things that weren't there.
"Well, the next thing I know," Connors said, "police cruisers are coming down every day, more than once."
He said he saw Goodwin visit Webber, in an unmarked cruiser, daily and sometimes twice daily, for the next five or six months. About two weeks after Goodwin met Webber, Connors said, the 90-something-year-old woman was driving her Cadillac to her mailbox when she stopped to tell Connors she was in love with Goodwin, was going to marry him and that he was going to leave his wife and children to move in with her.
Webber also said "I'm going to give him everything," said Connors.
Soon after, he said, "She stopped talking to everybody."
Connors said Webber was friends with his parents before he was born and that was the connection that led to his buying the home next to hers and "why we look out for her." He said he made sure Goodwin and/or attorney Gary Holmes (who wrote Webber's disputed will to largely benefit Goodwin) knew he saw them coming and going, and "knew what they were doing was wrong."
Connors said he "wanted them to know they were being watched and they weren't getting away with it."He said he sometimes reported what he saw to Webber's then-attorney, Jim Ritzo, because Ritzo used to be there "every day and he took good care of her."
Connors said he saw Ritzo visit Webber daily for 10 years and that Ritzo "did nothing but good things for her and helped her out and she adored him."
"That changed when Aaron (Goodwin) came into the picture," he said.
Allegations surfaced at that time that Ritzo was exploiting Webber, but police never pressed any charges and the state determined the complaints were unfounded, according to public records.
After Webber endorsed her last will and trust (in May 2012), Connors said, Goodwin's visits lessened to "once a week for 10 or 15 minutes after work."
"He used to come down - I think it was Fridays because all the neighbors used to call it pay day when he showed up," Connors said. "It was a joke around the neighborhood for a while. It was sad, but it was a joke."
The veteran police officer said he began reporting his observations to police officials more than four years ago. He said that on Oct. 18, 2010, he was at a police function at the Ice House when he told then-police chief Lou Ferland about his concerns involving Goodwin and his elderly neighbor.
"(Ferland) said, 'Trust me, you don't want to get involved in this one,'" Connors said. "Those were his exact words." (Continue Reading)
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