The former head of Rockingham County's Community Action program pleaded guilty to embezzling roughly $1 million from another nonprofit group he once operated in York County, Maine.
Thomas Nelson, 56, formerly of Alfred, Maine, admitted to tax evasion and embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit York Community Action Corp. between 2004 and 2009.
Nelson began working for Rockingham Community Action in New Hampshire in 2010. He resigned from the position last Friday.
He does not face any charges for taking funds in connection with his employment in New Hampshire.
Prosecutors say Nelson devised a number of ways to take the money from the private Maine nonprofit, which provides heating assistance, transportation and early childhood education.
Nelson began overpaying a consulting company based outside of Maine in 2005 as part of a conspiracy to have some of the funds kicked back to him, according to prosecutors. He also diverted upwards of $400,000 to a defunct nonprofit organization, New England Community Action, as a way to conceal the thefts, according to prosecutors.
Nelson used the diverted money to pay for a mortgage, credit card payments and gambling at racetracks and elsewhere, prosecutors said.
When interviewed by federal agents in June 2011, Nelson admitted to stealing money for eight to 10 years, sometimes covering his embezzlements by logging payments as “donations, consulting or other expenses,” prosecutors said in court documents.
Between tax years 2005 and 2010, Nelson also failed to declare money he took from his employer, including $21,808 in kickbacks from the out-of-state consulting company that helped him divert money, prosecutors said.
The case against Nelson became public Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Maine after Nelson waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a 10-count indictment filed by prosecutors.
Nelson remains free on bail. He faces upwards of five years in state prison when he is sentenced in November.