Former Rockingham jail administrator to admit to theft
By JAMES A. KIMBLE Union Leader Correspondent
BRENTWOOD — A former office administrator at the Rockingham County jail will plead guilty to charges that she embezzled thousands of dollars by altering her husband’s time sheets while he worked as a corrections officer, according to her lawyer.
Ann Marie Nelson, 55, of Chester intends to enter a guilty plea in Rockingham County Superior Court after being indicted on two counts of felony theft by deception.
She allegedly manipulated the payroll records at the Rockingham County jail, where her husband worked as a corrections officer, overbilling the county thousands of dollars.
Commissioner Vice Chairman Kevin Coyle said on Monday that a review by county auditors and the sheriff’s department found that Nelson had stolen more than $30,000 from the jail.
The thefts date back to at least July 2012, according to indictments.
Investigators had initially discovered about $12,000 allegedly siphoned by Nelson, who allegedly added time for shifts that her husband never worked, according to prosecutors.
Nelson and her husband, Keith, were suspended in May and no longer work for the county.
The New Hampshire Union Leader has learned that Keith Nelson will not be charged in the case because investigators have found no evidence that he knew what his wife was allegedly doing.
Prosecutors and Nelson’s lawyer have agreed to let a judge ultimately decide Nelson’s punishment after they make their arguments at an upcoming court hearing, according to court records.
The two theft charges are each punishable by up to 7½ to 15 years in state prison.
Defense lawyer Gerard LaFlamme asked a judge for a pre-sentence investigation to help craft a potential sentence. He asked the court for a May court date.
Coyle said he hopes that prosecutors will demand that Nelson spend some time behind bars.
“Knowing what I know, she probably needs to go to jail,” Coyle said. “When you’re in a position of public trust and handling the public’s money, you need to go to jail.”
A county employee who discovered discrepancies in the jail’s bookkeeping in May triggered a review of policies and practices at the jail and resulted in some changes, according to Coyle.
Nelson being allowed to review her husband’s time sheet was part of the problem, he said.
“We had a good system in place, but unfortunately people can steal from you anyway,” he said.