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Ex-aide to official faces jail in solicting minor

CONCORD, N.H. -- A judge yesterday found a convicted sex offender and a former campaign aide to the executive councilor, Raymond Burton, guilty of having offered alcohol and tobacco to a minor. The aide, Mark Seidensticker, 45, of Concord and Ogunquit, Maine, was sentenced to a year in jail.

Seidensticker worked on Burton campaigns for more than a decade. He was arrested in August in Concord. Authorities accused him of having offered beer and cigarettes to a boy, 14, while driving a car with a trunk stocked with blankets, duct tape, rope, and a lubricant.

Burton, a Republican whose district stretches from the Lakes Region to the Canadian border, has said that he had known only of Seidensticker's 1992 attempted assault conviction, and that he regretted having hired him.

Burton has refused to leave despite urgings of Governor John Lynch, fellow councilors Raymond Wieczorek, Ruth Griffin, and Debora Pignatelli, and the state's congressional delegation.

Support from Burton's North Country voters has remained strong.

Burton said Seidensticker's latest conviction did not change his mind. ''I never even gave it any consideration," Burton said yesterday of the call for his resignation. ''Beyond that, I have nothing more to say about that case. I'm sorry it all happened."

Burton, of Bath, has served for almost 30 years on the council, which approves state contracts and appointments. Seidensticker worked on five of Burton's last nine campaigns, doing work such as driving and stuffing envelopes. In 2004, Seidensticker was Burton's highest-paid campaign employee; he made $7,200.

During sentencing, Judge Michael Sullivan said of Seidensticker's offenses: ''Sinister is what comes to mind."

Seidensticker's criminal record includes the 1992 conviction for attempted sexual assault of a boy, and convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in New Hampshire and Maine, criminal trespass, indecent exposure, and violations of a protective order.

Prosecutor Paul Halvorsen asked for the maximum sentence, one year in jail and a $2,000 fine for offering alcohol, and a $1,000 fine for offering tobacco.

Halvorsen said Seidensticker's 1992 conviction, also in Concord, followed a similar pattern: cruising a neighborhood, pulling up to a boy, and offering a soda.

Seidensticker must serve two years' probation after he is released from jail. During that time, he will wear an electronic anklet, will be prohibited from contacting children under 18, and will be barred from stepping onto school property and parks. All but $500 of the fine will be deferred pending good behavior.

Seidensticker's lawyer, Ted Barnes, said he would appeal the verdict in superior court, where his client is eligible for a new trial, with a jury.

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