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Jury deliberating in Plaistow Fish & Game theft trial

BRENTWOOD - A jury began deliberating Tuesday morning in the trial of an ex-treasurer for the Plaistow Fish & Game Club who was accused of pilfering $200,000 to shore up his construction business after it was burglarized and suffered from a foundering economy.

Alan Colby, 52, is on trial for allegedly taking funds from the nonprofit club between July 2008 and December 2010 before preparations for an audit led to the discovery that the club's money was being funneled to Colby's construction business, Senter Brothers Inc.

Colby acknowledged to Plaistow police that he transferred $200,000 to shore up his construction business and returned about $96,000. The club was left with a $104,000 deficit, prosecutors said. At trial, Colby claimed he had no intent to actually steal the funds and got caught up in a piecemeal scheme to borrow and return money that went awry.

Defense lawyer Anthony Naro encouraged jurors to scrutinize bank records that include transactions of Colby returning funds, saying it demonstrates there was no intent to steal.

"When you look at that you'll see he is trying to pay it back," Naro said.

Assistant County Attorney Stephanie Johnson argued during closing arguments Tuesday that Colby only stopped taking money from the account when the bank barred his access to it.

"And let's not forget he also stopped paying them back," Johnson told jurors. The defense cast Colby as an unwitting treasurer of both his business and the club, too proud to ask for help after Senter Brothers was the victim of a series of break-ins, and a sour economy in 2008.

Johnson argued that Colby should not have felt entitled to reach into club coffers to save his business.

"Plenty of businesses fail, plenty of people fail," Johnson argued. "It doesn't mean when you are treasurer of a nonprofit organization you can help yourself of their money."

Colby is facing six counts of theft by unauthorized taking. Each charge - all Class A felonies -- is punishable by up to 7 to 15 years in state prison.

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