WESTFIELD – The Blandford police chief has confirmed a key part of a rumor which has been circulating in the town about a former selectman, Robert R. Nichols.
Blandford Police Chief Kevin Hennessy said Friday that charges have been filed against Nichols but declined to elaborate further saying only that Nichols is expected to be arraigned Oct. 3 in Westfield District Court.
The rumors which have been circulating allege that Nichols has been charged with larceny of property valued more than $250 in reference to the project to replace the Hiram Blair Road bridge after it was washed out during the 2011 hurricane.
Nichols, as the chair of the board of selectmen, oversaw the project and required that the services of Berkshire Consulting be utilized.
A website, www.berkshireconsulting.com, does not appear to be active but Nichols is referenced as a partner in the consulting firm on associated websites.
However, the minutes of Dec. 2, 2011 meeting of the Blandford selectmen includes a question which was directed at Nichols who was asked what the company did for the bridge project.
Nichols reportedly said that the company completed the contracts fro the bridge project.
When asked at the meeting h if he was “a part of the company”, Nichols is reported to have replied that “he personally is not a part of Berkshire Consulting at the present time.”
Generally, charges filed against a person who is not taken into custody are not made public until the arraignment occurs.
Nichol’s is on the docket at the Westfield District Court for Oct. 3 at which time reliable information about the case should become available.
Nichols had a tumultuous tenure as a selectman after he was elected in 2009.
That summer, he came under fire when an adult email with a pornographic attachment was sent from his computer to a email account used by a town department.
The issue led to a recall election that he and his supporters contended was politically motivated in retaliation for a complaint Nichols initiated after discovering a town official had been paid for services both by the town and by a utility company.
Nichols survives the recall election in April, 2010, by a 212-159 vote.
The next year, Nichols was again in the crosshairs after he was charged by State Police after he allegedly drove his vehicle in the wrong lane and struck a school bus head-on while under the influence of prescription drugs.
The case was adjudicated in front of Judge Philip A. Contant in Westfield District Court in October, 2012, when Nichols admitted to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding for a charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and the charge was continued without a finding with probation for one year.
A charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle was not prosecuted and he was found to be not responsible for a charge of speeding.