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Alan Colby, 52, returns to Rockingham County Superior Court on Friday to be sentenced on six counts of theft by unauthorized taking. (JAMES A. KIMBLE/FILE PHOTO))

Former Plaistow Fish & Game Club treasurer set to be sentenced

BRENTWOOD - A former treasurer for the Plaistow Fish & Game Club is expected to learn his punishment this week for stealing roughly $200,000 from the nonprofit group.

Alan Colby, 52, will be sentenced Friday afternoon on six counts of theft by unauthorized taking. He could face up to 7½ to 15 years in state prison on each of the charges.

A jury convicted Colby in January.

Prosecutors say Colby took the money over a three-year period beginning in July 2008 to shore up his failing construction business, Senter Brothers Inc., and returned roughly $96,000 before drawing the attention of police.

Prosecutors will recommend a punishment for Colby at Friday's hearing, but the decision will ultimately be left up to a judge.

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.

Public defender Anthony Naro told jurors that Colby's financial woes were the result of a foundering economy and being victimized by a number of burglaries.

Club members realized their books were off when they began to ask Colby about handing over records needed for an audit around late 2010, according to court testimony. Before going to police, the club's then president, John Poole, realized Colby had been transferring thousands of dollars electronically to his construction business, Senter Brothers, from the club's accounts.

Colby returned about $96,000 during the three-year period, but the club was left with a $104,000 deficit, prosecutors said.

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

A review of court documents show Colby had filed for Chapter 11 and was being scrutinized by the IRS related to his construction business months after he began siphoning money from the game club.

The Chapter 11 filing by Colby was related to rental properties he owned, but a judge ultimately dismissed the request because Colby did not complete all the paperwork required for the claim.

In 2009, the IRS was investigating Senter Brothers Inc. for its tax liability between tax years 2003 and 2008, Stephen Jerome, an IRS revenue officer, said in a court declaration. Jerome had summonsed Colby on July 22, 2009, to testify and provide records regarding the construction business, but Colby failed to appear for the hearing, according to court records.

That prompted the IRS to ask a judge to enforce the summons.

Colby is currently free on bail.

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