CONCORD — The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the three-year suspension of a Maine accountant's license after a state board found he committed professional misconduct in his former work for the Tri-County Community Action Program.
The Board of Accountancy concluded Ronald Beaulieu, who owned Ron L. Beaulieu & Co., had failed to properly retain records for five years and did improper auditing for the Berlin-based anti-poverty agency. He also was fined $5,000.
This probe started with an investigation from the Attorney General office's Charitable Trust Division that concluded "incomplete and inaccurate reports" had led to the near-financial collapse of the agency.
After looking into the matter, the state relieved Beaulieu of his role and named a new acting auditor of the program in January 2013.
Associate Justice Anna Barbara "Bobbie" Hantz Marconi wrote the court's unanimous opinion that had upheld a Superior Court's decision on Beaulieu's license suspension.
The case began with a $1.6 million adjustment to a 2008 audit Beaulieu had done and not adequately explained.
Beaulieu insisted during his hearing before the board that he wasn't guilty of misconduct and the board had shifted the burden of proof in this case to making him disprove the allegations.
"Beaulieu testified that he stood by the accuracy of the numbers in his audit, but that he had 'no idea' as to the reason for the adjustment because he had not 'looked at those on an individual adjustment-by-adjustment basis,'” Hantz Marconi wrote.
Tri-County CAP filed a federal lawsuit against Beaulieu and in that claim officials said money was taken from a well-funded fuel assistance account and used to prop up a dental medicine benefit program for low-income clients that was way over budget.
According to the lawsuit, Beaulieu failed to report any of these financial irregularities to the Tri-County CAP's board of directors.
The New Hampshire Legislature ultimately stepped in and provided the organization with a $1 million bailout and $300,000 line of credit.
The group later settled with the state for $700,000.