Spinning Down the Rabbit Hole: How Barre’s Forensic Audit Reportedly Came About
It’s been almost three months since the Wakefield accounting firm of Powers & Sullivan launched a forensic audit into the Town of Barre’s financial affairs.
Follow this intriguing media evolution of a multi-million dollar caper which could ultimately result in the prosecution of numerous town officials.
December 7, 2010
The T&G’s Bradford Miner reports the resignation of then Treasurer Rebecca Pellegrino who held the position for two years. Pellegrino announced she had accepted a position with Sheriff-elect Lew Evangelidis. In the article, Miner also described Finance Committee Chairman David Tuttle as an “Evangelidis supporter”. In fact, Tuttle, whose wife Rebecca was the Town’s Treasurer from 2000-2009, was Evangelidis’ campaign manager who’d eventually become Lew’s Deputy Sheriff.
The Board of Selectmen described Pellegrino as “a consummate professional“.
It was also reported how Selectman Kathy Inman “said this might also be an opportunity to consider the recommendation of the Department of Revenue to combine the positions of collector and treasurer“.
December 8, 2010
The T&G’s Bradford Miner reports after attending a Finance Committee meeting how Barre has a $1.2 million dollar shortfall. Miner wrote “a problem of uncollected taxes dating back more than a decade reached critical mass last night for the Finance Committee and selectmen“.
BoS Chairman Lief Ericson was the first to publicly place the blame squarely on one individual, Tax Collector Marcia Langelier who had been in the position for 14 years. Ericson stated how she “either can’t, is unwilling, or needs more help to do this job“.
The BoS arranged for an emergency meeting with Langelier and Fred Dupere, the Town’s labor lawyer.
December 9, 2010
The Barre Gazette publishes an editorial in the wake of the Ware Report proclaiming, “It is the system in Massachusetts that is broken – not Steve Brewer“.
August 1, 2011
Nancy Talbot was appointed Treasurer/Collector.
November 17, 2011
The Barre Gazette reports how FinCom Chairman David Tuttle blamed the current fiscal mess on “sloppy record keeping“. ”Tuttle stated that the audits done annually did not find anything out of order as cash paid and never recorded would never show up“.
Additionally, BoS Chairman Ericson said he had been in discussions with the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue (DoR) and “the commissioner had outlined a plan for the town. The first step would be to conduct a forensic audit of the tax collector’s office dating back to 2005“.
The Town would be receiving a list of accounting firms from DoR that conduct forensic audits.
November 23, 2011
The T&G’s Bradford Miner reports how the BoS met in executive session, citing exemption #5 to investigate charges of criminal misconduct or to consider the filing of criminal complaints, along with Town Counsel James Baird, FinCom Chairman David Tuttle and “two unidentified individuals“.
Miner reports how “there’s an ongoing investigation of irregularities in the town tax collector’s office, with an audit examining records dating back to 2005“.
December 8, 2011
The T&G’s Bradford Miner reports how the Town has hired Powers & Sullivan “in the wake of questions about missing tax payments through the years“. On its web site, Powers & Sullivan state it “can help to investigate alleged, suspected, admitted or detected fraud and other potential wrongdoing. By finding the facts, we can help you resolve the situation promptly with regulators and other stakeholders, reducing the adverse impact on operations, reputation and value“.
Miner then goes on to explain how FinCom Chairman David Tuttle “first identified ‘red flags’ and uncollected real estate personal property tax and excise tax amounting to $1.2 million one year ago“.
December 22, 2011
The Barre Gazette reports about the ongoing fiscal crisis. “Ericson explained that selectmen have no control over elected officials“.
When asked why the yearly audits did not show anything out of order, (Ericson) said they “only worked off the information given“.
February 6, 2012
At the Special Town Meeting Ericson said the results of the forensic audit may never be made available to the public.
Additional background information:
- Barre’s Town Accountant is Daniel Haynes. His firm, Hirbour & Haynes has audited the Town’s books since 2000. Mr. Haynes’ name has never been mentioned throughout this financial scandal. Haynes is now a partner with Scanlon & Associates.
- As of January 3, 2012 when this muckraker submitted a public records request to the Selectmens Office seeking the minutes of numerous executive sessions, the Board had convened under exemption #5 eight times from September 6, 2011 – December 5, 2011. Town Administrator David Battistoni has neither acknowledged the request nor fulfilled it. On February 21, 2012 the BoS again convened in executive session citing exemption #5.
- MA Tax Collectors Manual
- No open meeting minutes exist of the BoS voting to approve the selection of Powers & Sullivan. No RFP can be found related to this selection. No open meeting minutes exist of the BoS having discussed the Town’s financial crisis with DoR or DoR “recommending” a forensic audit take place.
- Forensic auditing aims at a legal determination if fraud has occurred.
Posted on March 15, 2012, in Town Matters and tagged Barre Gazette, Becky Pellegrino, Daniel Haynes, David Battistoni, David Tuttle, DoR, forensic audit, Fred Dupere, Heather Lemieux, Hirbour & Haynes, Marcia Langelier, Nancy Talbot, Powers & Sullivan, Rebecca Tuttle, reporter Bradford Miner, Scanlon Associates, Selectman Kathy Inman, Selectman Lief Ericson, Selectman Richard Jankauskas, Senator Brewer, tax collector, Telegram & Gazette, Town Counsel James Baird. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off.