Hell’s Angel held on $50,000 bail for alleged domestic assault after standoff

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LACONIA — A local man who police say is a Hell's Angel was held on $50,000 cash-only bail or $200,000 corporate surety after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend on two separate occasions in his home on Weirs Boulevard. He must also provide a source of funds should he post bail.

11-15 James Patrick CunninghamBelknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen didn't mention the local motorcycle club affiliation when she asked the court to set 60-year-old James Cunningham's bail at $100,000 cash-only or $200,000 corporate surety.

Guldbrandsen also asked for a source-of-funds hearing should Cunningham post bail. The judge asked her why and she said the multiple assaults, coupled with his refusal to exit his home when ordered to by police, make him dangerous.

Cunningham faces two counts of second-degree domestic violence assault, one count of simple assault, one count of resisting arrest, one count of criminal threatening, one count of felony criminal threatening and one count of possession of a controlled drug. Police allegedly found some marijuana in a bedroom desk drawer.

According to police affidavits, the woman who called police "made reference to being the victim of human trafficking" by Cunningham, whom she said is a Hell's Angel. She alleged that he hit her over the head with a pool cue on Nov. 11 and the cue broke. She said that in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, he slapped her face. She said that when she went into a bedroom, he threatened to "slash her throat" and "bash her head in." She told police there were many knives and swords in his home.

She escaped the home through a bedroom window around 8:30 a.m. on Monday after calling Laconia Police, who helped her to safety, but Cunningham refused to come out of his house for an additional two hours, leading local police to activate the Belknap County Special Operations Group.

According to police affidavits, after speaking on the phone with P. Scott Bratton, an attorney known for representing members of the Hell's Angels, Cunningham surrendered to police but allegedly struggled with them, forcing police to zap him with a Taser. He is charged with one count of resisting arrest.

While the police affidavits reference "human trafficking," Guldbransden didn't mention that or the Hells Angels in her oral bail argument Wednesday. Cunningham is not facing any human trafficking charges and it is not unlawful to be a member of a motorcycle group.

Cunningham was represented by Thomas Doyle and Kelly Norton, both of Massachusetts.

Doyle told the court that Cunningham had already relinquished all of his firearms to the Laconia Police and that police, according to their own affidavits, didn't find any knives or swords that the alleged victim described to them. He called Guldbrandsen's request of $100,000 "extremely excessive."

He said his client could post $10,000 cash bail and would agree to any conditions and restrictions the court would place on him, including that he not consume alcohol or drugs, that he not leave the state of New Hampshire, and that he sign a waiver of extradition.

Doyle said Cunningham has some serious medical conditions, including a heart disorder that includes needing a defibrillator. He said his client was supposed to see the doctor that day.

He said Cunningham has lived in his home for 16 years, does carpentry work locally and has strong connections to the area and that for these reasons he is not a flight risk.

Doyle also told the court that, despite the police department's recovery of a broken pool cue taped together, if the alleged victim had been struck in the head with it, she would be in the hospital. He said there were no significant marks on her head, according to police.

When the judge made his cash bail determination, Doyle asked again for lower cash but to no avail.

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