Bail reform scofflaw Closson back in custody, at least for now

Harrison Thorp 6:35 a.m.

Bail reform scofflaw Closson back in custody, at least for now

Nicholas Closson (Rochester Police photo)

ROCHESTER - The Rochester transient who was kicked out of a Strafford County Community Corrections no-bail agreement after he failed to meet requirements at a residential facility was rearrested on Sunday after police took him into custody on several warrants following a footchase.

Nicholas Closson, 37, was charged with disobeying an officer as well as three active Electronic Bench Warrants out of Rochester District Court and a capias warrant out of Strafford County Superior Court.

Closson fled from officers on Sunday when they attempted to speak with him after he committed a bicycle violation on South Main Street.

It was then learned Closson had the above mentioned warrants and officers continued after Closson, who was taken into custody a short time later. The capias out of Strafford County Superior Court was the result of Closson failing to meet the requirements of his Strafford County Community Corrections release, which stemmed from a prior burglary charge. The EBWs were for loitering/prowling, and two separate charges of criminal trespass. Closson refused bail and was arraigned on Monday.

A recent burglary indictment, Closson's only felony charge to date, alleges that Closson entered a Richardson Street property around July 26 without permission for the purpose of a "crime of theft."

Just four days prior to his arrest in the Richardson Street burglary, Closson was charged with possession of burglary tools (misdemeanor), loitering/prowling (violation) and attempted theft by unauthorized taking (misdemeanor) during a July 24 arrest at a May Street residence that was aided by an armed homeowner who arrived at the scene to find him attempting to burglarize his home and held him at bay until police arrived.

That case is being handled in Rochester District Court since the charges are all B misdemeanors or violations.

Shortly after Closson's Richardson Street arrest, Rochester Police Capt. Todd Pinkham said if the first arrest had occurred prior to bail reform there would have been a much larger chance he would've been held on cash bail.

Specifically, the Bail Reform legislation, SB 314, lays down the new parameters for cash bail to include anyone "charged as a felony, class A misdemeanor, or driving or operating while impaired, 3 or more times within the past 5 years" or deemed a danger to themselves or the public.

But many crimes like shoplifting and theft by unauthorized taking can be B misdemeanors that aren't even in the mix.

The result while awaiting trial is that some nonviolent offenders rack up a half dozen or more failures to appear with no consequence, Pinkham said, or reoffend and get another PR bail.

"I know this guy (Closson) didn't hurt anybody, but he's breaking into people's houses and stealing their stuff," Pinkham said in August. "But where do you value property, given the incident on the 24th? He's doing it again. What if we didn't catch him, and he pawned someone's $20,000 diamond ring?"

Pinkham said police have heard a lot of concerns from the community unhappy there is no accountability for such EBW scofflaws.

Strafford County Attorney Tom Velardi said in August the cumulative effect of arrestees getting back on the street on PR bail and reoffending and getting PR bail again was going down a dangerous path.

"People don't understand why (criminals) get out on PR and go back to court for another offense and get out on no bail again," Velardi said.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a slightly revamped bill on June 25, saying, ""It is critical to close loopholes that could potentially allow dangerous suspects from causing harm in our communities while they await trial, and this bill is another step in the right direction."

But Velardi says more needs to be done to hold nonviolent offenders accountable when they break laws while out on bail or fail to appear for court dates multiple times.

Velardi's statements about bail reform have infuriated bail reform bill author Albert "Buzz" Scherr, a UNH School of Law professor. who recently called Velardi the "Chicken Little" of bail reform pushback.

Velardi is part of a group of stakeholders from law enforcement agencies, the ACLU and others charged with considering recommendations to further strengthen bail reform to protect the public. They will make those recommendations to the legislature in November 2020.

The recent arrests and offenses allegedly committed by Closson are listed below.


Charge: Theft by Unauthorized Taking

Charge: Criminal Trespass


Charge: Burglary

Charge: Contempt (for violating prior bail conditions)

Charge: Receiving Stolen Property

Charge: Receiving Stolen Property

Charge: Receiving Stolen Property


Charge: Theft by Unauthorized Taking

Charge: Criminal Trespass


Charge: Loitering or Prowling

Charge: Capias from Rockingham County (Receiving Stolen Property)


Charge: Attempt to Commit Simple Assault

Charge: Resist Arrest/Detention


Charge: Capias for Violation of Probation