Federal charges filed against Eric Labarge in the New Hampshire Public Radio vandalism investigation draw the case closer to Granite Recovery Centers founder Eric Spofford, Labarge’s close associate and NHPR antagonist.
Spofford is suing the station, NHPR reporter Lauren Chooljian, NHPR News Director Dan Barrick, and others for defamation after the broadcaster aired stories last year in which women accused him of sexual misconduct, including assault.
A month after the report first aired, Chooljian, Barrick, and their families had their houses vandalized. On Friday, Federal prosecutors with the Massachusetts Attorney’s Office in Boston announced Labarge, 46, and three other New Hampshire men had been indicted for their roles in the vandalism.
According to a statement issued by prosecutors, Labarge agreed to coordinate the frightening vandalism campaign against the journalists with Tucker Cockerline, 32, of Salem, Michael Waselchuck, 35, of Seabrook, and Keenan Saniatan, 36, of Nashua after the story was released.
Spofford has not been charged in the vandalism investigation, and has denied any role in the crimes.
Prosecutors describe Labarge as Spofford’s “close personal associate.” Spofford’s attorney, Michael Strauss, did not respond to NHJournal’s request for comment on the charges against Labarge. Previously, Spofford gave a supportive statement about Labarge.
“I worked closely with Eric Labarge to help him overcome his addiction in the early days of his sobriety,” Spofford said. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch him grow through the ups and downs of recovery for almost ten years. He’s done great things for the recovery community, and I believe he will continue to for years to come.”
Like Spofford, Labarge owns several recovery centers in New Hampshire. Labarge also has a criminal history that includes violence against women attempted murder. He’s currently facing trial in an assault case in Manchester.
According to court records, On or about April 22, 2022, Labarge solicited Cockerline to vandalize Chooljian’s former home in Hanover, using a brick and red spray paint. On the evening of April 24, 2022, Cockerline allegedly spray-painted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on the front door and allegedly threw a brick through an exterior window of the home.
On or about April 22, 2022, Saniatan allegedly agreed to vandalize Barrick’s home in Concord, and Chooljian’s parents’ home in Hampstead, using large rocks and red spray paint. After that, on the evening of April 24, 2022, Saniatan allegedly spray painted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on the front door and threw a large rock at the exterior of Barrick’s home; and he allegedly threw a softball-sized rock through a front exterior window and spray painted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on one of the garage doors of Chooljian’s parents’ home.
On or about May 18, 2022, Labarge allegedly solicited Cockerline to vandalize Chooljian’s parents’ home in Hampstead, and Chooljian’s home in Melrose, Massachusetts, using bricks and red spray paint. Cockerline, in turn, allegedly recruited Waselchuck to vandalize Chooljian’s residence.
On the evening of May 20, 2022, Cockerline allegedly spraypainted the word “C*NT” in large red letters on one of the garage doors of Chooljian’s parents’ home, and left a brick on the ground near the front door. Several hours later, Waselchuck allegedly threw a brick through an exterior window of Chooljian’s home and painted the phrase “JUST THE BEGINNING” in large red letters on the front of the house.
The men are all charged with conspiracy to commit stalking through interstate travel and/or the use of a facility of interstate commerce. Each charge in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution.