Charges Announced in Thefts of Public Funds Totaling More Than $1.7 Million

BOSTON, July 23, 2019 — As part of her Office’s ongoing efforts to ensure the public’s confidence in our public institutions, District Attorney Rachael Rollins today announced the anticipated arraignments of nonprofit employees and public employees – including a sitting Saugus Selectman – in unrelated larceny cases.

“I am committed to holding individuals accountable who abuse their power and betray the public’s trust,” District Attorney Rollins said.  “Their selfish and criminal actions depleted resources that were intended for the improvement of our communities, but more critically depleted the public’s confidence in our institutions.  The charges brought against each of these defendants reflect my Office’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of our public agencies and nonprofit organizations.”

Two former executives of the Boston Center for Adult Education face arraignment tomorrow in Suffolk Superior Court for alleged thefts from the nonprofit learning center.  On July 12, a Suffolk County grand jury returned a total of 25 indictments alleging various offenses against BCAE’s former comptroller MARK MITCHELL and former executive director SUSAN B. BROWN.  The grand jury also indicted Brown’s partner, KAREN KALFIAN, for her role in the thefts. 

Mitchell, 49, of Saugus, is charged with:

  • Making false entries in corporate books,

  • Publishing of false or exaggerated statements,

  • Common law forgery,

  • Common law uttering,

  • Three counts of forgery,

  • Three counts of uttering, and

  • Four counts of larceny by scheme.

Mitchell serves as a Selectman for the Town of Saugus and has been charged in connection with the misuse of campaign funds, in particular:

  • Improper campaign expenditures,

  • Making a cash campaign expenditure over $50,

  • Mixing political committee and personal funds, and

  • A fifth count of larceny by scheme.

     

Brown, 66, of Marblehead, is charged with:

  • Making false entries in corporate books,

  • Publishing of false or exaggerated statements,

  • Common law forgery,

  • Common law uttering,

  • Forgery,

  • Uttering, and

  • Larceny by scheme.

     

Kalfian, 62, of Marblehead, faces a single charge of:

  • Receiving stolen property by scheme.

 

Brown, who served as the nonprofit’s Executive Director from 2009 until September, 2018, allegedly authorized a series of checks to Kalfian totaling $565,586 between 2011 and last year.  Those checks were purportedly payments for marketing services.  Kalfian briefly worked for the nonprofit in 2005 but did not perform any marketing services for the organization in the years since, prosecutors allege.

Mitchell joined the organization as comptroller in 2011, and his alleged thefts from the nonprofit began that same year.  Between September 2011 and September 2018, the defendant allegedly issued unauthorized checks to himself and to a BCAE instructor, whose signature the defendant forged in order to deposit the checks into his own account.  He allegedly embezzled upwards of $970,000 through this scheme.  The defendant is also accused of making payments from the nonprofit to an elite youth baseball league he owned and operated.  In addition, Mitchellallegedly used his employer’s account to make unauthorized payments for personal expenses and those of the youth team.  These expenses totaled $242,749 and included the cost of the defendant’s participation in golf tournaments and sending youth baseball players to out-of-state baseball camps.

In their attempts to cover up the thefts, Mitchell and Brown allegedly falsified the nonprofit’s records.  The defendants are also accused of producing false reports to be filed with the IRS in an effort to renew the nonprofit’s tax exempt status that they had allowed to lapse.  They subsequently presented the organization’s Board of Directors with a forged letter purportedly from the IRS stating that the nonprofit’s status had been reinstated, prosecutors said. 

The Board of Directors launched an investigation and hired a forensic accounting firm to review the organization’s finances in 2018.

Mitchell is additionally accused of misusing his political campaign funds for personal expenses unrelated to his campaign, comingling his campaign funds with personal funds, and making cash withdrawals greater than the $50 maximum set by law.  The unlawful cash withdrawals were made at locations in Boston, giving Suffolk prosecutors jurisdiction over the offenses.

In a separate proceeding in Chelsea District Court tomorrow, former City of Revere employee DEREK PARADIS, 47, of Revere is expected to be arraigned on a charge of larceny over $250 by single scheme for the alleged theft of funds from city parking meters.

The defendant was employed as the lead parking meter technician for the City of Revere when the contents of seven “smart” meters that were part of a pilot program were stolen between August and September 2017.  Meter records indicate that the meters collected $1,377 in quarters in that timeframe, none of which was deposited with city’s Treasurer’s Office.  The defendant was the only person with access to the meters, prosecutors allege.

“There is no higher calling than public and nonprofit service, and as public servants we are held to a higher standard of conduct.  When an individual misuses their position of trust to take advantage of the community they serve, it diminishes the efforts of all of our dedicated public servants,” District Attorney Rollins said.  “I’m committed to building strong relationships with our municipal and community partners to ensure that every public dollar goes toward its intended purpose.”

Mitchell, Brown, and Kalfian are expected to be arraigned tomorrow in the Magistrate’s Session of Suffolk Superior Court.  Paradis is expected to appear for arraignment in Chelsea District Court.

 

 

 

All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Renee Algarin