Ex-director of Londonderry church nursery seeks dismissal of theft charge
BRENTWOOD – A former director of a church nursery school in Londonderry is arguing that a judge should dismiss charges that she embezzled about $18,000, saying that she also has been charged with the same offenses in three Massachusetts courts.
Lisa Wallace, 42, of Wakefield, Mass., was charged in Lynn, Malden and Woburn district courts with improper use of a credit card that belonged to St. Mark the Evangelist Church.
Defense lawyer Sandra Bloomenthal argued in a court motion filed in Rockingham County Superior Court that a judge should dismiss a felony theft charge in New Hampshire because it amounts to Double Jeopardy and violates Wallace's constitutional rights.
County prosecutors have yet to respond to Wallace's latest legal argument, but acknowledged in court documents that, “there are many issues regarding duplicate charges in (Massachusetts’) jurisdiction.”
Wallace allegedly took the money when she began working at the Londonderry church school in September 2008 and continued after her departure in June 2012, according to court records.
She faces a single count of theft by unauthorized taking in Rockingham County, a charge punishable by up to 7½ to 15 years in state prison.
Bloomenthal said in an affidavit that the case in Lynn has been dismissed along with one of the charges filed in the Woburn case.
Wallace was charged in Massachusetts between August and November, according to court records. She was indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury in October. No trial date has been set in the Rockingham County case.
Wallace had access to a church bank account designated for buying school supplies, according to police.
She left her job last June 7 shortly after a reverend at the church decided that the parish bookkeeper would be taking over the accounting and oversight of the nursery school’s finances, according to a police affidavit by Londonderry police Detective Kristen Gore.
Wallace did not turn in the school-issued bank card on her last day of work and made 8 withdrawals at an ATM in Wakefield, Mass., totaling $2,400, according to Gore.
That same day, Wallace used the card to buy $555.86 in groceries at a Shaw’s Supermarket, police said.
A day after that purchase, church personnel notified the withdrawals and had their bank freeze Wallace’s school-issued debit card. A review of bank records by police indicated that Wallace roughly 80 debit card transactions totaling $15,571.06, according to police.
Wallace has remained free on $5,000 cash bail since her arrest. She is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 14.