Ex-treasurer of Plaistow Fish & Game Club sentenced to year in jail
Alan Colby, 52, was taken into custody on Friday afternoon after his lawyer made a last-minute bid to have the ex-treasurer and local businessman free on bail pending appeal.
Judge Kenneth McHugh amended Colby's bail so he would have to post $50,000 cash or surety to be free on bail pending an appeal.
McHugh specified that Colby not be allowed work release to serve as a punishment for violating the trust of his friends and fellow club members.
"It's too bad, because this gentleman is not a career criminal," McHugh said. "But a lot of people in today's economy are suffering and they don't commit crimes."
A jury convicted Colby on Jan. 8 of six counts of theft by unauthorized taking for withdrawing roughly $200,000 from the club's coffers.
Colby began taking the funds in July 2008. He returned about $96,000 before club members realized in July 2010 that money from their bank accounts was missing.
Assistant County Attorney Stephanie Johnson argued that Colby should spend at least two to seven years in state prison, despite his lack of a criminal record prior to the theft.
Johnson said Colby took the money to shore up his construction business, Senter Brothers Inc., but created a new series of financial woes for the game club in the process.
"There were accounts, bills they were not able to pay," she said. "Electricity had to be shut off for some time."
Members of club came to watch the sentencing on Friday, but did not speak at the hearing.
Public defender Anthony Naro argued asked McHugh to sentence Colby to 12 months in county jail with the possibility of work release so he could begin paying back $104,270 in restitution.
"This was a desperate act by a desperate man who was foolish and proud," Naro said. "He ended up hurting people as a result… Alan Colby is a person who always wanted to help people."
Roughly $40,000 of the court-ordered restitution will go to an insurance company, the remainder will go to the club, prosecutors said.
Colby will also have to pay a 17-percent penalty assessment to the state.
"Seventeen percent tax on $104,000 is no small number," Naro said. "He will be paying it for the rest of his life."
McHugh said he received 8 to 10 letters in support of Colby that he read prior to Friday's sentencing, but recognized that close, trusted friends who were members of the club feel betrayed.
"That's a horrible, personal anger issue that's hard to let go. I understand it," McHugh said.
Naro said he plans to appeal the verdict.