EASTON MA Nov 6 2016 – A town employee in charge of the union’s finances admitted to stealing more than $20,000 in the last 20 months, police said.
Pamela J. Almeida, 53, of 159 Nice St., Raynham, was arrested and charged on Monday with larceny over $250 by single scheme.
Last week, an Easton police sergeant was contacted by members of the Southeastern Public Employees Association, the union for town employees, regarding financial discrepancies in its bank account. The union also represents public employees in Mansfield, West Bridgewater and Milton.
Easton police Detective Sgt. Darren Mangott opened an investigation after union employees accused the treasurer, Almeida, of stealing money from the account at Bank of Easton.
The recent treasurer’s report filed by Almeida for the summer listed a balance of more than $52,000, but the union president discovered the balance was at $1,400 last Wednesday, Mangott wrote in a probable cause report, filed in court.
Mangott later met with an assistant district attorney and state police detective assigned to the Bristol County district attorney’s office. They obtained 21 months of bank records, indicating “Almeida was writing checks to herself and cashing them from January 2015 to September 2016,” the report states.
On Monday, about 10:52 a.m., Officer Matthew Solov, Mangott and a state police detective went to the Town Offices, at 136 Elm St., to talk to Almeida, after discovering she no longer lived at her Fall River address.
“When presented with the discrepancies between the SPEA bank statement and the treasurer’s report she had submitted, Almeida confessed to writing undue checks to herself,” the report states. “Almeida admitted these checks were not reported on her treasurer’s report in an effort to conceal the theft of funds.”
Bank records indicate Almeida wrote herself over 30 checks for at least $20,350, between Jan. 20, 2015, and as recent as Oct. 22, 2016, the report states. The application for criminal complaint lists at least $22,500 in stolen property.
Almeida is the principal clerk for the town’s Department of Planning and Community Development and Conservation Commission. She has worked in Easton since 2000.
Almeida was paid $51,898 in 2015, including a $450 longevity bonus, according to salary records obtained by The Enterprise earlier this year. In 2014, she earned $52,748. She told police that she filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and “has had financial difficulties since that time period,” the report states.
“Almeida described her duties as the SPEA treasurer, where she has full access to the SPEA bank account at the Bank of Easton,” the report states. “Almeida told us she has full authority to write and issue checks on behalf of the SPEA.”
Detectives are still investigating the case, as Almeida told police she took money “over the past several years,” but couldn’t remember exactly when it began.
Almeida pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Monday in Taunton District Court. She was held on $1,000 bail and is due back in court on November 16 for a pre-trial hearing.
“This is certainly an unfortunate turn of events, however, our responsibility is to respect the due process provisions of the law and refrain from passing any judgment whatsoever, leaving that duty to the courts,” Town Administrator David Colton wrote in an email to employees Monday afternoon.