May 1, 2015 11:48 AM
Former police chief takes stand in Geraldine Webber estate hearing
DOVER - Former Portsmouth police chief Lou Ferland testified Friday that he did not know Geraldine Webber's home was being left to one of his officer's until he retired, and Webber had died.
Ferland also told the court that he did not have knowledge that Webber was planning to leave one of his commanding officers, Capt. Mike Schwartz, with $25,000 in her will. Schwartz later declined the funds.
“It might’ve been common knowledge with them, but it was not common knowledge with me," Ferland testified.
Numerous attorneys pressed Ferland, telling him that numerous other officers that worked for him had already testified in the ongoing hearing that it was "common knowledge" that Webber was leaving Goodwin her home, and that supervisors even made jokes around the department.
Ferland also testified that he "relied heavily" on the opinions of the NH Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. Representatives from BEAS, according to Ferland, informed him that there were no concerns with Goodwin's relationship with Webber, and that his actions did not violate law or department policies.
However, Ferland said he did receive complaints about Goodwin's alleged on-duty visits to Webber's home, in his cruiser, from Atty. James Ritzo, the man Webber accused of trying to exploit her.
And despite discussions with Capt. Schwartz and then Capt. MacDonald about Goodwin's relationship with Webber, Ferland insisted he did not think Goodwin was doing anything that violated policy.
"I would trust him with my life, and my daughter's life," he said.
Rochester Atty. Jennifer Hoover, who witnessed the signing of Webber's revised will, testified after Ferland.
Portsmouth Police Capt. Frank Warchol also testified following Hoover at noon.
Warchol testified that he reviewed internal memos written by Captains Schwartz and MacDonald, as well as Det. Aaron Goodwin, about Goodwin's dealings with his elderly benefactor Geraldine Webber.
Warchol also told the court under oath that it was "common knowledge" to command staff at the police department that Webber was planning on giving her home to Goodwin. Therefore, he "assumed" that Ferland knew as well.