Ex-treasurer on trial for cash withdrawals from Plaistow Fish & Game Club
BRENTWOOD - A former treasurer of the Plaistow Fish & Game Club pilfered more than $200,000 to shore up his foundering construction company, prosecutors said Monday.
The trial of Alan Colby, 52, of Plaistow started Monday on six counts of theft by unauthorized taking. He allegedly stole the money over a three-year period, and had returned about $96,000 before his arrest.
Public defender Anthony Naro argued that the return of nearly half the funds demonstrated Colby only intended to borrow the money - but lost track of what he took.
"I would submit to you that that doesn't matter," Assistant County Attorney Stephanie Johnson said during opening arguments. "What matters is that he took money that didn't belong to him."
The money was taken through 60 electronic bank transfers made between July 2008 and December 2010, according to police. Colby, also then the treasurer of Senter Brothers Construction, had control of the bank accounts for the local game club and the construction business. He admitted to Plaistow police that transferring the funds was as easy as a couple of clicks of a computer mouse, according to court testimony.
Colby's transfers were discovered when club members voted for a biannual audit of the nonprofit group's books, according to John Poole, the club's former president. Poole, of Atkinson, testified that he began reviewing the club's bank records after Colby had failed to turn over all records needed for an audit.
"The matter was eventually turned over to police. Sgt. Pat Caggiano, now with the Atkinson police department, led the investigation. Colby admitted to transferring the funds, Caggiano testified.
"The story he told me was that Senter Brothers was broken into," Caggiano testified. "He was personally out a vast amount of money. He did this to keep Senter Brothers afloat."
"He asked when he was going to jail - and would he have time to get his affairs in order before he went to jail," Caggiano testified.
Naro, the public defender, argued to jurors that his client was known as an ardent supporter of the club since joining in 1992, appearing there two to three times a week for club functions or just to socialize. He suggested to jurors that Colby's actions were morally wrong, but don't meet the legal burden of theft.
"It's wrong, it's unethical, it's dishonest, but we are here to determine whether he had a purpose to deprive," Naro said.
Testimony is expected to resume this morning.