A former New Hampshire congressional candidate who staged one of the most bizarre election ploys in recent U.S. history is facing jail time after violating his parole on a conviction relating to faking his own disappearance in 2006.
Gary Dodds, 43, was arrested Tuesday morning after a judge revoked his bail and police were unable to locate him, briefly sparking fears he'd gone A.W.O.L. again.
Assistant Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi insinuated Tuesday that Dodds seemed emotionally disturbed during and after his arrest, noting that New Hampshire sheriff's deputies had to pry a cell phone from the hands of the former Democratic candidate and that Dodds initially moved to flee when he saw the deputies.
Dodds "made various voluntary statements that can be described as disjointed and rambling,'' Velardi said at a press conference in New Hampshire late Tuesday morning.
But Dodd's attorney, J.P. Nadeau, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit that the arrest was an "overreaction by the prosecutor's office … to create some media attention to shed a film of justification for the prosecution in the first instance."
Nadeau was referring to Dodd's well-publicized trial last year on charges that he faked his own disappearance to drum up attention for his flagging political campaign.
Locals mostly shrugged off news of Dodds' most recent arrest.
"There's certainly no shock up here that [Dodds has] gotten himself into trouble again,'' said Scott Spradling, a New Hampshire political consultant and a former political director at ABC News affiliate WMUR in Manchester.
"One more bizarre act and he's going into the Rev. Wright file," Spradling said, referring to Barack Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
Dodds has "been the punchline of jokes in the political world up here for years now,'' Spradling added. "He does not have close ties to [political] leaders on either side of the aisle. He was hardly a household name before he disappeared … though, I guess he could now consider that a mission accomplished. 'Missing'
Dodds had claimed he hit his head in a car crash, wandered off seeking help, and nearly drowned in a nearby river before being found 27 hours later.
The most damning testimony in the case came from two medical experts who showed Dodds had spent most of his time 'missing' soaking his feet in cold water to make it look like he'd crossed the icy Bellamy River, in April, 2006. As noted at trial, paramedics who treated Dodds noticed a clear demarcation line above his feet – the skin was wet and purple below the ankles and warm and pink above, Velardi told jurors.
Dodds continued to campaign after the charges were filed, and came in third in a four-way race.
Medical reports cited by the prosecution in the case reportedly showed that Dodds' feet were not frost-bitten but instead had 'immersion foot-related injury,' also known as trench foot. Velardi acknowledged in court that he has no idea where Dodds was during the time he was missing.
"This was supposed to be a hero's story,'' Velardi said in court. "Instead, when the state police began to pick it apart, it became a criminal investigation."
Nadeau flatly disputed that claim in court.
"This is a case about a man wrongfully accused in a situation so absurd even a genius couldn't conceive it,'' he said, according to the Portsmouth Herald's online edition.