Chris Noe, the independent candidate for the first selectman, has a criminal past that includes an arrest for breach of peace and trespassing in Darien in 1995, and time served for shooting a man in 1983, state records indicate.
“I went from coming from one of the wealthiest families in town, to serving time in max security prison. I get released, and against all odds I’m running for office and have a good chance of winning,” said Noe. “What happened does not affect my running as a candidate. I’m a productive member of society. I know who I am, and I’m trying to do the right thing for our seniors and our taxpayers.”
Noe’s first charge was for shooting a man at a party in Stonington. Interviews with Stonington police and the person who threw the party indicate that Noe got into an argument with another man, left the party and returned with a pistol. He shot the man in the neck.
“I was on duty that night when they brought Chris in,” said Lt. Raymond Curioso of the Stonington police. “He was never a problem until that incident.”
That incident took place on Saturday, July 30, 1983. Noe—then 23—shot 22-year-old William F. McCabe, leaving McCabe critically injured.
“It was a big deal in Stonington,” said Curioso. “Shootings generally are.”
New London Day staff reporter Julie Lipkin covered the shooting with an Aug. 1 article entitled: “‘Calm party ends in man’s shooting.”
“I was the five o’clock news for weeks,” said Noe.
Michael Bessette, who now lives in California, hosted the party at his childhood home on Elm Street in Stonington.
“I thought it was a party to bring people together who didn’t hang out together—which I guess was a mistake. Subsequently I invited Chris. I knew Bill much better. I didn’t know there had been a disagreement when I had invited them,” said Bessette.
Bessette said he later learned of the disagreement that led to the shooting. It took place at the Sportsman’s Bar (now called Handlebars), he said, where every Sunday afternoon, a local football league would meet after the game.
“That’s where they had a disagreement about whether or not Chris’s girlfriend was looking at William,” said Bessette. “Both he and Bill were kind of like alpha males. Bill was known as the big strong footballer with a pretty cheerleader girlfriend, and Chris was strong, wealthy and drove a motorcycle.”
Bessette said the disagreement was just that: “a disagreement.” There was no brawl or physical fight.
Noe said that was not the case.
“I got mixed up with some idiots who beat me unconscious, broke my jaw broke, broke all my teeth, and beat the crap out of my girlfriend while I was unconscious,” said Noe. “The cops did nothing. I was the rich kid. They were the football heros.”
A few weeks later, Bessette threw a house party. His father was home, but his mother was out of town. It was a party of about 30 people, which started in the early afternoon. A friend’s rock band was playing outside, he said.
“The drinking age was 18. We had a few kegs of beer and other drinks,” Bessette said, who added that it did not appear as if McCabe or Noe had been drinking heavily.
Bessette said Noe came to the party at about 10 p.m., saw McCabe, and then left. He came back on his motorcycle at about 11:30 p.m, said Bessette. This time he had a gun.
“He walked inside and tracked down Bill in the kitchen, pulled out a gun and said, ‘I’m gonna kill you,’ and McCabe laughed and said ‘Go ahead and shoot me,’ and he did. He did.”
Curioso said that Noe had obtained the firearm from his home.
“They put one of those crime scene lines up. I saw them examining the revolver. I knew it was a pistol,” said Bessette.
Noe said it was an act of self-defense.
“The police weren’t doing anything,” he said. “These guys tried to kill me several times. I defended myself.”
According to Lipkin’s article, Stonington Ambulance personnel arrived within minutes of the shooting and provided emergency treatment to McCabe, who was shot in the neck. He was transferred to Westerly Hospital where, after hours of surgery, he was listed in critical condition.
Judge Paul M. Vasington, who sentenced Noe, was quoted by Lipkin to have said “chances are high that McCabe may not survive.” To everyone’s surprise, said Bessette, McCabe recovered “quite well.”
Bessette said that Noe had left before police arrived on the scene.
“Chris went home, saw his dad and told his dad what he had done,” said Bessette.
According to records, Noe was charged with attempted murder on July 31, 1983 (the shooting took place near midnight on Jul. 30) and held on $100,000 bond.
Noe appeared in Superior Court in New London the following day, Aug. 1.
The judge rejected an appeal by Noe’s attorney, Chester W. Fairlie, to lower the bond to $50,000, keeping it at $100,000. Noe was initially sentenced to 15 years, suspended after four years and five years probation for first-degree assault. He was arraigned and admitted to the local jail Corrigan-Raddgowski.
On Sept. 9 (approximately one month and a week after his first admission on Aug. 1), Noe was discharged on bond. He was readmitted on April 2, 1984 with a sentence “greater than” one year, said Joan Ellis, public information officer of the State Department of Correction.
Noe was then transferred among a number of State DOC facilities during his trial period (Osborn, Enfield, Robinson and Hartford). He was admitted to a maximum-security facility in Cheshire on May, 29, 1986 to serve the remainder of his sentence.
“I’ve seen the worst. I watched guys get raped. I watched guys get murdered. A guy got stabbed and died right in front of me,” said Noe. “These things are commonplace in jail. Do you let it bother you? No. You just compartmentalize.”
Noe was discharged on Oct. 29, 1986. By then, he had served approximately two years and eight months for his initial charge of attempted murder.
Simple trespass and breach of peace are the most recent charges on Noe’s criminal record. Both stem from the same case, a 1995 incident in which Darien Police arrested Noe as a prowler.
“Police finger Noe as prowler on Old Kings Highway South,” reads the headline of the Nov. 2, 1995 Darien Times report.
“That was just a misdemeanor. A backyard he-said, she-said deal,” said Noe.
According to the Times, Noe—then 35—was arrested at 5 p.m. on Oct. 25 at a construction site on Bayberry Lane. He was charged with third-degree assault, simple trespass and disorderly conduct. According to police, charges are sometimes “knocked down,” in State court. Such was the case here.
The arrest came a week and a day after Darien police received reports from a female resident on Old Kings Highway South who said that her boyfriend was “in a fight with a prowler.”
The woman said her lights went out at about 9 p.m., and when she heard someone in the bushes, she called her boyfriend. The boyfriend drove from his house in Fairfield, Conn. to her house, reset the circuit breaker, and checked the premises.
He found Noe crouching in the bushes.
A fight ensued and the boyfriend struck Noe over the head with a rock.
When police arrived, Noe had fled. With a detailed description of the prowler, Noe became suspect. According to the report, police were unclear why the woman lost power.
State records indicate that Noe was arrested on Oct. 25; he posted a $1,000 bond and was arraigned in court on Nov. 6 with a sentence of six months suspension, subject to six months jail time, and one-year probation.
In a separate case from 1988, Noe was arrested by Darien Police Aug. 12 and charged with larceny in the third degree. According to reports, police found more than $1,000 worth of stolen commercial kitchen equipment in Noe's home. Noe was arraigned Aug. 25 and fined $1,000. He did not serve jail time.
On April 27, 2005 Noe was incarcerated in a Bridgeport DOC for a civil charge; he was discharged on bond that same day.
Darien police refused to comment.
“I saw Chris once since the party,” said Bessette. “Of all places, he was at the Sportsman’s Bar. He saw me. I saw him. We agreed that we should both leave.”
Noe said he does not think that his criminal record will affect his race.
“The old felony. That’s ancient news. That’s no big deal.”
Staff Attorney Ted Bromley at the Secretary of the State said so long as candidates are registered to vote, they can legally run for office; felons who have served their full sentence, including time for probation, can register to vote, Bromley said.
Thomas R. Dunn of the Darien Registrars of Voters confirmed that Noe is a registered voter.
The municipal election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.