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December 11, 2012

Manchester sergeant to remain in jail

Judge denies request for move to alcohol treatment facility

BEVERLY — Frantic 911 tapes recorded the night of a domestic disturbance during which a shot was fired and police uncovered a large cache of weapons in a North Beverly home led a judge to reject new terms for a Manchester police sergeant being held without bail.

In Salem Superior Court yesterday, Superior Court Judge John Lu denied a bail review request by Danvers attorney Ronald Ranta to have John H. “Jay” Swallow placed in a residential alcohol treatment facility rather than having him locked up 23 hours a day. Swallow has been sequestered in the jail’s infirmary because he is a police officer and must be kept away from the jail’s population out of concern for his safety.

“Are there any conditions of release that would satisfy the public,” Ranta asked.

Swallow has pleaded not guilty in Salem District Court to charges of assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, witness intimidation and three firearms security violations. At the end of October, a judge ordered Swallow held without bail for 90 days. He has since been suspended from his job and is on unpaid leave. Ranta questioned an additional charge of carrying a firearm while intoxicated brought by prosecutors in the weeks after the original incident.

Ranta said there were not statements by police that Swallow had been drinking or that he was outside of his home with a gun. He added that even if Swallow is convicted, he will likely serve more time than the charges warrant.

“One of the things I don’t like to do is kick the can down the road without a resolution,” said Lu, who said the 911 calls were persuasive. “It’s clear to the court there appears to be ... a very troubling and serious alcohol issue that is not being addressed.” Without knowledge of a program or its parameters and security, Lu denied the request.

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