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|King accuser calls arrest a political 'conspiracy'||Saturday, August 23, 2003|
|Craig MacCormack||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- The man who filed a state ethics complaint against Town
Manager George King said yesterday his arrest for violating a restraining
order was a politically motivated ploy to keep him quiet.
Seth Levenson, who said he saw King playing strip poker with his assistants Karen and Allison Potter, was arrested Thursday at the Memorial Building for violating a restraining order taken out Wednesday by Allison Potter, his estranged wife.
Levenson, who now lives in Woonsocket, R.I., planned to speak about the complaint he filed against King during the public participation section of the selectmen's meeting, where Potter works part-time taking notes for the board.
"My civil rights have been severely violated (by a) baseless court order to silence me," said Levenson after his appearance in Framingham District Court yesterday. A pre-trial conference is slated for Sept. 3.
"It's a conspiracy by Allison and George and others," said Levenson, who planned to read a statement about his filing with the State Ethics Commission before being arrested by Police Chief Steven Carl. He was listed second on the sign-up sheet, he said.
King and the Potter sisters have denied Levenson's claims and the Board of Selectmen did not include the scandal in King's glowing annual review.
Following Thursday night's meeting, selectmen met in executive session and rendered the complaint without merit and no concern of theirs.
"The concerns do not warrant inquiry," according to a statement released by Assistant Town Manager Mark Purple yesterday.
"The Board of Selectmen continues to hold the Town Manager in the highest regard and remains confident in his ability to continue to successfully manage the Town," said the statement.
Vice Chairwoman Ginger Esty abstained from the vote, which was unanimous otherwise. Esty chose not to vote after a heated exchange with King during the public portion of the meeting when she accused King of suppressing information.
"I appreciate the support of the Board of Selectmen," said King. He would not comment on anything associated with Levenson's complaint.
Levenson can have no contact with Allison Potter, except when he drops off the couple's two children at her Holliston home on Fridays and when she brings them back to him on Sunday nights. A relative will be present at both times.
Court officials would not say yesterday whether there was a history of violence between Levenson and Potter. Carl gave Levenson the order Thursday.
Police in Woonsocket were unsuccessful in their attempt to deliver the order on Wednesday, so they asked Framingham. Carl talked to Levenson about the order outside the Memorial Building before the meeting.
Levenson went back inside the building and was arrested for violating the order, which says he can't come within 20 feet of Allison Potter.
"I was hoping it was served so I wouldn't have to deal with it," said Carl. "I really thought he would've left. I gave him every opportunity. I begged him not to go back inside. I don't know why he didn't listen."
Levenson's attorney, John L. Daly Jr., didn't think it was coincidence that the police chief was the one who handed Levenson the order.
"Most of those are delivered by patrolmen," said Daly. "Rarely if ever is it the chief of police. I certainly wonder why. I find it hard to believe he was the only fellow around. That's something we need to find out."
Carl was on the selectmen's agenda for two alcohol violations and a local law enforcement block grant.
"I was on the way over (to the Memorial Building)," said Carl. "I was trying to be circumspect and not embarrass him."
Levenson plans to attend a future selectmen's meeting, he said, and talk about the complaint he filed, "if they'll have me. " If the order is not extended, it would expire one day before the board's next scheduled meeting.
"I think (King) has been in my wife's ear since the time she started working there," said Levenson. "I came forward on my own. I would have come forward (about the allegations) sooner but I had to protect my wife."
Levenson said Karen Potter was completely disrobed during the strip poker game, and King was down to a T-shirt, socks and pants. He did not say what Allison was wearing at the time. Three other men were also in the game.
"(King) was winning," said Daly.
The restraining order, he said, "will be fully contested. It was wrong to give it. It's nothing but a naked attempt to prevent (Levenson) from speaking in an open forum."
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