NH GOP: First-ever transgender state rep should resign over hidden criminal past

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

New Hampshire Democratic State Representative-elect Stacie Laughton was for a brief moment a celebrity for Democrats across the country after becoming the first-ever openly transgender person to win an election in the United States. It didn’t last long.

The Laconia Daily Sun reported over the weekend that Laughton is a felon. No one discovered Laughton’s criminal history until after the election, though, because she was legally named Barry Charles Laughton, Jr. when she pleaded guilty to criminal charges in court.

“Laughton, recently elected as one of three lawmakers to represent Hillsborough County House District 31, is a convicted felon and served 4-1/2 months in jail in 2008 for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud,” The Laconia Daily Sun reports. “She was also convicted of tire slashing and at one point reportedly admitted she faked illness to gain an ambulance ride from Weirs Beach back to the heart of Laconia.”

Laughton didn’t think it was necessary to tell the people she was asking to elect her, but she now says she would have talked about it if somebody ever figured it out and asked.

“I didn’t feel it was necessary to tell [constituents], but I felt like if it came to light – which it has – I was going to be honest,” Laughton told Nashua Patch after the story broke. “I was prepared for it to come out during the campaign. I don’t want to step down; I want to serve the people – that’s all I’ve wanted to do, and regardless of my past, I can do it and serve them.”

In May 2007, Laughton — then known as Barry Charles – and her now ex-wife Lisa, opened a credit card in the name of a woman who lived in the same public housing project as them, the Daily Sun reports. Laconia police determined that the Laughtons used the credit card fraudulently to buy electronics and pay bills.

“Documents obtained from Belknap County Superior Court indicate Laughton was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card, one count of conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and one count of falsifying physical evidence for disposing of two of the computers, two cell phones and a printer after learning of the police investigation,” the Laconia Daily Sun reports. “On July 29, 2008, she pleaded guilty — under the name of Barry Charles Jr. — to the three charges. Laughton was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud — all suspended pending 10 years of good behavior, and 3 1/2 to 7 years for the falsifying physical evidence — again suspended to 10 years good behavior. The two suspended sentences were concurrent.”

“She was sentenced to serve 12 months with four months suspended in the Belknap County House of Corrections for conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card,” The Laconia Daily Sun article added. “According to Department of Corrections media spokesman Jeff Lyons, Laughton served four and one-half months in jail and was released on November 21, 2008.”

That was hardly the only time this Democrat, whose Nov. 6 victory was described by the liberal Huffington Post as a “history-making win,” broke the law.

According to the local report, Laughton and her now ex-wife called 911 three times in the early morning on July 5, 2006, to ask police for a ride home from local fireworks. On the third 911 call, Laughton reportedly faked being suicidal and claimed that her now ex-wife had fallen. They asked for two ambulances – which were sent to them, along with a local cop.

“Both were transported to Lakes Region General Hospital where Laughton told the attending physician initially that he had called the ambulance because he couldn’t sleep and suffered from depression,” The Laconia Daily Sun reports. “In the next breath, reports indicate Laughton said, ‘Honestly Doc, I was at the Weirs fireworks and didn’t have a ride home.’ The doctor declined to treat Laughton further and the police said they were unable to drive them home.”

It appears the Laughtons would have gotten away with everything if they just paid the $4 cab fare for the ride home from the hospital. But The Laconia Daily Sun reported that the Laughtons stiffed the cabbie, who called the police on them.

“Records indicate that two police officers went to their Church Street apartment and pounded on the door until Laughton answered. Laughton said he wouldn’t pay the $4 fare because the taxi service has assured them that it would run until 2 a.m. but didn’t. Police said she became ‘increasingly agitated,’ finally telling the two officers that Laconia District Court Judge David O. Huot (also elected to serve in the new Legislature the 2012 election as a Laconia Democrat) would ‘laugh the charges out of court’ and there was nothing the city police could do about it.”

Authorities charged Laughton with a felony count of creating a public alarm for calling emergency services when there wasn’t an emergency and a misdemeanor count for theft of services from the cabbie. Laughton pled guilty to the misdemeanor but the county attorney didn’t prosecute the felony count.

Laughton was also convicted in 2006 of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, for slashing the tires of her neighbor.

The revelation of Laughton’s criminal history has sparked New Hampshire GOP leaders to demand the state representative-elect resign before taking office.

New Hampshire House Majority Leader Pete Silva said Laughton should resign because of her failure to tell people about her felony past. “It is unfortunate that Ms. Laughton did not come clean with the voters of her district during the election process,” Silva said in a Monday morning statement. “If I lived in the district, I would be extremely disappointed to learn, just days after the election, that my neighborhood was going to be represented by a person that only four years ago was convicted of a felony charge involving conspiracy and fraud and served time in prison.”

“While I believe in a person’s ability to be rehabilitated and become a productive member of the community, I also believe it is a candidate’s duty to fully disclose their personal history to allow the voters an opportunity to make an informed decision,” Silva added. “Ms. Laughton failed to give the voters of her district that very basic amount of trust and respect. Lawmakers should hold themselves to a higher standard and Ms. Laughton has already failed the voters of her district by not being forthright with them. Ms. Laughton should step down immediately in order to allow for an election process where voters are given the opportunity to evaluate candidates through an open and transparent process; something they were denied on November 6th.”

It’s unclear whether Laughton will actually make it into office, or if she’ll resign before she gets there. New Hampshire Democratic Party leaders haven’t responded to specific allegations, nor have they defended Laughton’s criminal behavior or her failure to tell voters about it. But New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley did attack Silva in a mid-Monday statement, charging that he’s playing politics.

“The outgoing majority leader needs to accept the defeat dealt to him on November 6th and come to terms with the fact that he only has two weeks left in office as [New Hampshire Speaker of the House] Bill O’Brien’s chief lieutenant,” Buckley said. “The people have spoken and they roundly rejected Bill O’Brien and Pete Silva’s extreme agenda and it is now time to move New Hampshire forward, away from their divisive policies and tactics that moved us backwards for two years.”

The GOP lost control of the New Hampshire House in the 2012 election, though a resignation by Laughton would not put Republicans within reach of regaining control.

Laughton says she wants a chance: “I know we live in a society where they say once you’re a felon and shouldn’t be able to work here, or there. But people get out of jail, every day, and we spend so much to rehabilitate them. I just want to prove myself,” Laughton told Nashua Patch.

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