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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

McCallum to face competency review

A former New Hampshire state prosecutor accused of receiving works of art stolen from Dartmouth and other institutions was granted a hearing Wednesday to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

Former Assistant Attorney General William McCallum's hearing is scheduled for June 17 in Rockingham County Superior Court. A trial date has been set for Oct. 14.

McCallum is charged with 71 counts of receiving stolen property. The counts range from misdemeanors to Class A and Class B felonies. Two of those counts are from Grafton County, where evidence was found at McCallum's in-laws' home in Lyme.

McCallum pleaded not guilty to all 71 charges during his arraignment in January.

His lawyer, Harry Starbranch, declined to comment on whether the request for a competency hearing means McCallum will plead insanity.

"Anytime there is an issue or an inkling of lack of competency, a hearing is usually granted," Starbranch told The Dartmouth yesterday.

Starbranch called McCallum's case "very sensitive" and declined further comment on his current mental and physical health.

In an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday, McCallum said, "I'm holding up pretty well."

Hanover Police Detective Sergeant Frank Moran told The Dartmouth in August that it was a computer stolen from a Dartmouth student that led to the discovery of the artworks and the eventual arrest of McCallum.

David Breed -- a friend of McCallum's estranged wife Valerie Nevel -- was helping Nevel move out of McCallum's home on June 20 when he noticed the software inside a Macintosh desktop and laptop system were registered to a stranger.

Breed told the Boston Globe he had also been suspicious about the art pieces in McCallum's house when his wife explained that her husband "got them at yardsales" or "couldn't explain where some of the stuff came from."

"You just don't get that kind of stuff at yardsales," Breed said.

Breed notified the Hanover Police, who acquired a search warrant and determined the computer had been stolen from a student at the Thayer School of Engineering in 1995.

While searching McCallum's residence, police uncovered items also believed to be stolen and obtained warrants to search the house thoroughly.

Among the pieces recovered in McCallum's home were three prints of etchings by 18th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi, whose works were valued at over $1,000. They were stolen from the walls of Carpenter Hall.

About $200,000 in stolen items, including paintings, rugs, books, and computer equipment were found in the home.

Many of the stolen items were traced to Yale University, Colby-Sawyer College, Boston College, Boston University, the St. Paul's School in Concord and the Ropes and Gray law firm in Boston.

McCallum was fired from his job as Assistant Attorney General and is being prosecuted by a former colleague.