Mass. man who owns rental property in Conway sentenced for voting illegally in NH
A short-term rental owner accused of voting in Conway illegally because his legal residence is in Massachusetts on Wednesday pleaded guilty in Carroll County Superior Court and was sentenced on two misdemeanor charges and entered into a diversion agreement on a felony.
At sentencing, Scott Kudrick, 51, addressed charges for allegedly voting illegally in the 2021 Conway town election.
He was indicted last October on a count of Class B felony voter fraud for allegedly voting in Conway when he wasn't "qualified" to do so under RSA 654. The indictment said Kudrick is from Norwell, Mass.
He was also charged with a misdemeanor version of wrongful voting and with unsworn falsification for trying to deceive an election official in order to vote in a local election that would affect his business as a short-term rental operator.
The April 13, 2021, election had warrant articles pertaining to legalizing and regulating short-term rentals. Kudrick owns multiple short-term rentals in Conway.
One of the misdemeanors alleges that on his registration form he wrote down invalid mailing address to "obscure" his physical address.
In a deal to settle the felony charge, Kudrick entered into what's called a “diversion agreement.” The agreement was reached between Kudrick, his attorney, Alan Cronheim of Sisti Law Offices of Portsmouth, and the Matthew Conley, an election law attorney with the state Attorney General's Office.
The agreement was filed with the Superior Court on Sept. 26. Kudrick agreed to plead guilty to the two misdemeanors a few days prior to that.
A diversion agreement and the pleas were accepted by Carroll County Superior Court Judge Mark Attorri on Wednesday afternoon.
"Obviously, you understand what you did was was wrong," Attorri told Kudrick. "I appreciate you taking responsibility for that."
According to the written diversion agreement, Kudrick must complete 100 hours of community service for a non-profit as provided for in his sentence for the misdemeanor charges.
He must remain arrest-free and of good behavior for one year. If he is not of good behavior, a guilty plea will automatically be entered for the voter fraud felony and he would be sentenced. If he behaves, the felony charge will be dropped by the AG’s office or dismissed by the court.
The misdemeanor convictions carry the aforementioned community service, a 180-day jail sentence suspended for two years, fines of $4,960, and he may not vote again in New Hampshire until his right has been restored by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Attorri had Conley describe the terms of the pleas and the diversion agreement.
"We're satisfied that this is a reasonable outcome," said Conley.
Cronheim described some of Kudrick's good works in the community. He said Kudrick served on a Conway town committee seeking to legalize and regulate short-term rentals before the April 2021 vote. However, the proposed regulations were defeated at the polls. After that, the town sued Kudrick as the named defendant in an attempt to restrict short-term rentals, but the New Hampshire Supreme Court sided with Kudrick in the civil case. Cronheim said Kudrick also mentors a high school student.
"He accepts this; he accepts his error," said Cronheim, who later added that Kudrick could seek to have the misdemeanors annulled in five years.
Kudrick said little during the hearing other than to answer the judge's questions about whether he understood his rights, that he was of sound mind and other formalities.
The felony charge against Kudrick was a Class B felony and could have been punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
Details of the criminal case were revealed in Attorney General’s Investigator Anna Brewer-Croteau’s probable cause statement, which said the case came to the state’s attention on April 23, 2021, when an Intervale neighbor of Kudrick’s called the state’s election law unit to complain she saw Kudrick vote and knew Conway was not his primary residence.
“(The woman) checked his New Hampshire Voter Registration Form that he completed the day of the election and found that it showed his ‘domicile address’ at 78 Grove St. ... which she knows to the be address of the North Conway Post Office,” said Croteau.
Croteau then checked Kudrick’s motor vehicle records and found that in 2019, he listed the post office’s address as his address. However, his most recent driver’s renewal in 2021 gave an address of 95 Dinsmore Road, North Conway.
Croteau said the Intervale neighbor’s husband told him Kudrick had told them he lives in Norwell, Mass. Croteau found Kudrick does own a home in Norwell with his wife, Amy. He also has “many” properties in Conway, Croteau said, and “all but one,” the Dinsmore Road property, are short-term rentals.
Croteau went to 95 Dinsmore Road and met his neighbor who said Kudrick owns the house but lets his employee, James “Jimmy” Merritt, stay there.
“Information provided by the male across the street from 95 Dinsmore Road was corroborated by a March 25, 2021, Conway Planning Board meeting where Mr. Kudrick testified,” said Croteau.
“He stated that ‘Jimmy’ and his kids live at the Dinsmore Road property, but Kudrick did not mention or allude to the fact he also resides there. This was 19 days prior to the election where he claimed to domicile in Conway using the 78 Grove Street address, the physical address of the post office.”
She said records from Norwell, Mass., show that while Kudrick didn’t vote in the May 2021 Norwell town election, he did vote there in the 2020 November general election and the primary in March 2020 and was considered an “active voter.”
Readers may remember that the town of Conway took Kudrick to Carroll County Superior Court in 2021 claiming that short-term rentals weren't allowed by the town's zoning ordinance. The court in January of 2022, sided with Kudrick. The town appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and lost again in May.
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