Owner Says He Asked Trocki Mayoral Signs Be Removed; Declines Second Police Interview

City video appears to show Shaun P. Toohey, left, and William H. Ryan in front of Lafayette Square building. (From Haverhill Police video.)

The owner of the Lafayette Square property says he specifically asked that mayoral candidate Daniel Trocki’s campaign signs be removed from an island near his parking lot.

Dave Vasta, owner of 23-43 Lafayette Square, came to the defense of City Council candidate Shaun P. Toohey and former Mayor William H. Ryan in a statement yesterday.

“I asked Mr. Toohey to remove the signs, this was prior to speaking with the detective,” Vasta wrote.

Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro says the statement is such a departure from what Vasta told a detective that police sought to interview him again. However, the chief said, Vasta declined. He explained, Vasta “doesn’t remember what he told detectives and doesn’t want to be in the middle.”

DeNaro said, because he is sensitive to political concerns, he assigned the investigation to “a lieutenant instead of a patrolman because of the delicate investigations of those who hold office, including a former mayor.”

According to an Oct. 3 report, police officer Trocki said two of his red and white campaign signs placed on the island near the Copperhead Saloon’s parking lot in Lafayette Square were removed Sept. 26. City surveillance footage viewed by WHAV shows Ryan and son-in-law Toohey leave KC Carpets, walk the sidewalk toward the parking lot and then Toohey taking the sign and putting it into the bed of Ryan’s truck. Later that afternoon, cameras captured Ryan placing the sign in a trash barrel. According to a report filed by Sgt. James Keenan, Ryan was also said to have folded a second sign and “shoved it in a trash barrel” the next morning.

In his statement, Vasta wrote, “The article in WHAV news was not entirely accurate and I wanted to set the record straight because two individuals’ integrity is at stake.” DeNaro bristled at the remark, telling WHAV, “That report was incredibly accurate. I’m highly suspect of the change and revelations provided after your story was aired.”

In an interview with WHAV, Capt. Stephen J. Doherty reiterated the events. “Lt. Pare interviewed Mr. Vasta on the phone as the report reflects. She asked him specifically if tenants needed permission from the business owner to place signs on the property. To which, Mr. Vasta says he leaves it up to individual owners to make that determination as long as the signs are ‘not obtrusive or would hurt the property in anyway.’ A representative of the Copperhead Saloon, as the report indicates, authorized placement of Trocki for Mayor signs on the Lafayette Square property. Mr. Vasta made no mention to Lt. Pare that signs were removed at his request. The report is accurate as to the information provided during the investigation by those who were interviewed and cooperated with police.”

Trocki declined to press charges against Ryan, who is also a former School Committee member, city councilor and state representative, and former School Committee member Toohey. They were identified in the police report as “suspects.”

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