By Chris Paul
An investigation by the State Attorney General has led to a settlement in lieu of criminal charges, against a former Notary Public for the town of Londonderry.
For well over a year now, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has been conducting an investigation into Notary practices within the Town of Londonderry. Specifically in question, was the use of official work time and the following of proper procedure regarding the notarization of a “cease and desist” order by the parents of former Town Manager, Kevin Smith.
The cease and desist letter was addressed to Brian and Jessica Smith, residents of Mill Valley, CA, and was titled “Re: Defamation of Character – For Libel and/or Slander,” dated April 20, 2022.
The document cited several N.H. laws, as well as California Penal Code, threatening legal action against the recipient’s if they continued what the letter claimed were unlawful public statements. The letter purported to be on file with the Londonderry Police Department, as well as the Mill Valley, CA Police Department. However, a California public records request to the Mill Valley Police Department produced no such record.
The document, signed by Bruce and Denise Smith, was also sent to Kevin and Brian Smith’s cousin, Mary Friedel, a current resident of Massachusetts, who was an alleged victim of sexual assault by a Smith family member when she was a young girl.
The letter, delivered by local law enforcement in both states, was notarized by Kirby E. Brown, who recently left her position at the Town of Londonderry, just shy of her 10-year anniversary.
The “order” was spurred by comments made on social media by Friedel during the former Town Manager’s campaign in the N.H. primary for a U.S. Senate seat.
Upon receiving the letter, Brian Smith and Friedel contacted both the town of Londonderry and the N.H. Attorney General, alleging notarial misconduct due to the discovery that Bruce Smith did not sign the document in Brown’s presence, despite the Notary Seal by Brown attesting that he was present. The formal complaint was made on July 25, 2022.
Friedel also noted in her complaints to the town and state that she was contacted by Londonderry Police officer, Marvin Alfaro, on April 20, 2022, instructing her to stop communications with Bruce and Denise.
On Sept. 21, 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released their findings on the allegations.
In a letter addressed to Kirby Brown, it read:
“Ms. Brown: On July 25, 2022, this Office received a complaint alleging your potential notarial misconduct under New Hampshire law. Following an investigation, the Attorney General orders you to cease and desist from conducting any further action as a notary public and to resign your commission in the State of New Hampshire. This Office further fines you $250 pursuant to its statutory authority under RSA 455:16.”
The letter to Kirby goes on to describe the facts of the case, in that the State found that Bruce Smith was not present when Brown, as a Town Official, notarized the order. In a statement to investigators, Brown reportedly told Denise Smith
“I know Bruce, just have him sign when you see him.”
The DOJ determined that Brown’s actions violated RSA 456-B:2.II and also RSA 456-B:2-a (*IF a notarial act relates to … a signature executed on a record, the individual … executing the signature shall appear personally before the notarial officer.”).
This violated RSA 455:16,I(d) by making a notarial act in which she purported to witness a signature that she never actually witnessed.
The Attorney General provided notice of its intent to seek a civil penalty, to negotiate, and to settle with such suspected violators without court action, provided any civil penalty paid as settlement shall be paid to the Secretary of State. A settlement offer of a civil penalty for Brown’s violation of this state’s notary laws in the amount of $250, resignation of her New Hampshire notary Commission, and ceasing any further notarial activity in New Hampshire was accepted in verbal conversation with the Attorney General’s office.
According to an Affidavit in Support of an Arrest Warrant, Town office staff conducted an internal investigation on the matter and concluded that what was done “wasn’t a notorial act” contrary to the outcome of the State investigation.
Town Manager, Mike Maliguti, was asked a number of questions related to the State’s findings.
Maliguti responded, “Public servants are rightly subject to heightened scrutiny and accountability. That goes with the territory. It is unfortunate, however, that in the ongoing efforts of some people and publications to discredit the Town Council and administration, human decency towards an employee who gave her heart and soul to the Town of Londonderry is nowhere to be found.
“In publishing a hit piece about the one-off mistake of a dedicated public servant who gave the residents of Londonderry a decade of her life, the Londonderry Times scrapes from the gutter. Because this publication certainly cannot be expected to do so, let me address this story’s collateral damage directly: Kirby, I am sorry for what you are going through. Nothing, including this episode, can tarnish your contributions to the Town of Londonderry.”
Malaguti declined to answer other questions regarding attorneys costs related to the investigation, the close timing of Brown’s departure, and the procedure that led to the call to Mary Friedel by Londonderry Police.
Reaching out to Kirby Brown on the state’s findings, she said, “I was a respected notary for the Town of Londonderry for six years. On April 18, 2022, Denise Smith came into my office needing a notary. The facts are, Denise was the only one present, and the only one I notarized for. Had there been any additional signatures on the document, I would not have notarized the document in any way as no other party was present when the document was presented to me. My practice is to stamp any and all signatures based on common notary practices.
“I have never made any exceptions to the notary practices, regardless of the circumstances or my familiarity with the party present. There is only one stamp on the form, as I saw and notarized only one signature. As any notary knows, whatever happens with any form once it leaves your presence is out of your control.
“Concerns regarding this document were raised to the Town Manager and in a letter I received from Town Manager Malaguti, dated May 4, 2022, the Town Attorney at the time, after an internal investigation was done, concluded there was no wrong doing.
“I was completely unaware of any investigation related to this instance with the AG office, up until two weeks ago when I received notification that I am to resign my notary privileges.”
She added, “I am the victim of someone else’s dishonesty. I was simply doing my job that day.”
When asked if she’ll be paying the fine set by the state, Brown said, “I’ll be paying the fine and resigning, even though I know I’m innocent because I don’t want the drama and stress in my life and I just want to be done with this. As mentioned in my statement, I just found out from the AG’s office about this two weeks ago, and they didn’t give me much time to react. And I just want to move on with my life.”
Brown also stated, “I was never given the chance to tell my account of the event to the AG’s office as I was not made aware of any continued investigation by the AG until they had already concluded it.”
Friedel felt the initial letter delivered to her, Brian and Jessica was a farce, and she was relived to finally see some resolution to the yearlong ordeal, saying, “I am grateful to the AG for investigating the people who conspired to intimidate me. No victim of sexual assault should ever be re-victimized.”
Jessica and Brian Smith were also pleased to see the matter come to an end, saying, “We thank the AG for their thorough investigation into those who tried to intimidate our family. By bringing these dark actions to light, we hope the use of Londonderry resources to satisfy a personal agenda & silence victims is something that never happens again.”
Note: The Londonderry Times was contacted over a year ago by Smith family members urging us to look into this matter. After the state released their findings we felt those findings should be shared with the residents.