GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 8, 2013

Court finds no merit to claims vs. Rockport police

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — A clerk magistrate in Newburyport District Court has thrown out a Rockport’s man’s criminal complaints against a Rockport police officer, with court documents showing various criminal charges raised by resident James M. Atkinson all found to have no probable cause.

In November 2012, Atkinson, 50, filed criminal charges against the Rockport Police Department in Gloucester District Court, alleging police officers had falsely arrested him, revoked his license to carry a firearm, used excessive force and illegally recorded him at the time of his arrest on multiple weapons charges in 2009.

At the time of his arrest in 2009, Atkinson alleged that officer Daniel Mahoney illegally recorded him during a phone conversation and did not inform him the conversation was being recorded until after about seven minutes.

The court documents state that Mahoney informed Atkinson the call was being recorded and that he was a police officer.

Furthermore, the document states the illegal wiretapping statute was put in place to defend people not aware a private conversation is being recorded. Atkinson called police at the time in order to schedule an appointment, the phone call did not relate to an interrogation, the document states.

The court found it “obvious” that Atkinson did not intend to keep his statements private.

Atkinson told the Times Thursday that he still believes Rockport police officers fabricated a search warrant and affidavit and did not have probable cause to arrest him. The court document, however, states the police documents were properly signed off on and approved at Gloucester District Court.

Rockport Lt. Mark Schmink said the matter was moved to Newburyport District Court due to a conflict of interest as officers also filed criminal charges at the same court house.

Atkinson,of 31 R Broadway was arrested in 2009, and faced numerous charges, including obstruction of justice, larceny and wrongful weapons possession, including a “rocket launcher.” The town and Atkinson have been dealing with the fallout ever since.

Atkinson, the president and senior engineer of the Granite Island Group, listed as a Gloucester based firm specializing in counterintelligence, was arrested in November of 2009 after a Swiss company reported it had never received goods for which it had paid to Atkinson’s business. The Swiss company, GAZ Turbine Services, which produces technology for the oil and gas industry, contacted the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, who alerted the Rockport police officers.

However, in May of 2012, Peabody District Court ruled the charges be dismissed, as one witness from Tennessee and the other from Switzerland did not show up to the court proceedings. Drug charges and an allegation that he illegally possessed the rocket launcher were also dismissed.

Atkinson, who claims to be a counterintelligence professional and has made national-level presentations on the topic, also alleges that police used excessive force when he was arrested; one part of that complaint comes from his handcuffs being too tight. The court magistrate’s finding, however, states Atkinson failed to demonstrate excessive force in his complaint.

Atkinson said he was not allowed to present significant evidence he brought to the hearing, and said he has filed an appeal.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.