October 16, 2018
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Maine man found not guilty in fraud case

Alex LaCasse | Portsmouth Herald
Alex LaCasse | Portsmouth Herald
Maine property owner James Dineen sits in Rockingham, New Hampshire, Superior Court, where he was on trial of title application fraud for registering his buses in New Hampshire. Dineen was found not guilty.

BRENTWOOD, New Hampshire — Following roughly two hours of jury deliberation, James M. Dineen was found not guilty on all charges for alleged title application fraud on Wednesday in Rockingham Superior Court, wrapping up a two-day trial.

Dineen, 72, who listed multiple addresses in Kittery and York, in addition to Stratham, New Hampshire, in court documents, was charged with four counts of filing false title applications for buses in Portsmouth on two separate occasions on Oct. 8 and Nov. 12, 2015. In the end, the jury did not find the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt Dineen acted with fraudulent intent when he registered the buses at 856 Route 1 Bypass North, the O’Briens II convenience store and gas station, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In her closing argument, Dineen’s public defender Tara Witt said though Dineen listed the store’s address on the applications, he also included a valid post office box in Portsmouth where he could receive mail. She said Dineen had a verbal agreement with the store’s previous owner, Ted Long, to purchase gas at the store in exchange for using the office space inside to make calls twice a year and continued under the store’s manager and that the current owner Carmella O’Brien would not have been made privy to the arrangement because she, “doesn’t oversee the day-to-day operations of the business.”

Prosecutor Colleen Laffin said in her closing argument since the defense did not dispute Dineen filed the applications and the lack of signage for Patrick Bus Leasing Corp. on the premises of O’Brien’s and O’Brien testifying she never gave Dineen permission to use the address made the case, “about common sense.”

“The defense (did not argue) Mr. Dineen is not the person who registered these vehicles with the town of Portsmouth and the state,” Laffin said. “His name appears on the bottom of these title applications. (O’Brien) has been involved with the running and ownership of this store since 2004. She doesn’t know who Mr. Dineen is, other than she recognizes his name because he has an account with the store as a customer. She’s never given him permission to use her business address, she’s never said he could use the office, she’s never seen him in the office and she’s never seen his buses there.”

Before the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, Witt filed a motion for dismissal on the grounds the state did not meet the burden of proof to demonstrate Dineen acted with fraudulent intent, but was denied by Judge Andrew Schulman on Wednesday morning. Dineen’s legal counsel opted not to call any witnesses to testify.

Dineen was charged in March 2016 with filing false information on title applications and the state alleged Dineen, with fraudulent intent, attempted to use the convenience store as the legal place of business for the Patrick Bus Leasing Corp. while reportedly knowing he did not have permission to use the address for the bus company.

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