New England news in brief


Police officer indicted on theft charges

A Methuen police officer who once served as treasurer of the patrolman’s union was indicted Wednesday for allegedly stealing funds from the labor group, authorities said. Mark Whittaker, 54, of Salem, N.H., was indicted by an Essex grand jury on two counts each of larceny over $1,200 by single scheme and embezzlement from a voluntary association, according to a joint statement from Methuen police, the Methuen mayor’s office, and the Essex district attorney’s office. The indictments follow a probe into alleged misappropriation of funds from the Methuen Police Patrolman’s Association. Authorities allege Whittaker embezzled money from that organization from 2015 to 2019. It was not immediately clear how much he is alleged to have stolen. A police spokesman said the amount was in the thousands to tens of thousands. Whittaker, who was placed on paid administrative leave for an “unrelated matter” in April, will now be suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the case, officials said.


Ranked choice voting backers plan petition

Supporters of ranked choice voting plan to file an initiative petition by next week to put the voting reform on the 2020 ballot in case they are unable to advance it through the Legislature before then. “While we will continue advocating for the successful passage of two ranked choice voting bills before the Legislature this session, we are finalizing language to submit to the Attorney General as the first step toward getting RCV before the voters on the 2020 ballot,” Emily Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Voter Choice Massachusetts, said in a statement. (SHNS)


Bangor, Maine

Mass. man convicted on drug charges in Maine

A Massachusetts man who said he couldn’t get a fair trial from an all-white jury in Maine has been sentenced to 14 years in prison on drug charges. Myron Crosby Jr., of Springfield, said he didn’t think he could get a fair trial because he’s African-American and the jury is white. The 56-year-old was convicted of conspiring to bring 60,000 to 80,000 bags of heroin into Maine. He told a judge last year he'd like to be tried by a jury of his peers in Massachusetts or Connecticut, where the drug sales occurred. (AP)


Concord, N.H.

Judges support woman’s citizenship

Two New Hampshire judges who were lawyers for a woman convicted of lying about her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide to obtain US citizenship are willing to testify on her behalf as she appeals her case. Beatrice Munyenyezi received a 10-year prison sentence in 2013. She was found guilty of lying about her role as a commander of a roadblock where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter. She also denied affiliation with any political party, despite her husband’s leadership role in the extremist Hutu party. (AP)