Lauren Bibo Morris, the former business manager for the Tewksbury Parks and Recreation Department was arraigned Wednesday on larceny charges in connection with an alleged pattern of theft from the town’s recreation center.
Morris, 30, of Tewksbury was arraigned in Lowell District Court on two counts of larceny over $250. Lowell District Court Judge Elizabeth Cremens released Morris on personal recognizance with conditions to stay away from and have no contact with witnesses or Tewksbury town employees.
“This defendant, Lauren Morris, allegedly violated her position of authority within the town of Tewksbury and stole funds intended for the town’s youth who could have benefited from the center,” said District Attorney Gerry Leone. “We fully intend to hold the defendants accountable for their actions, which showed a disregard for the public service they were hired to do.”
Morris handled registration and finances for the Parks and Recreation Department. Prosecutors allege she stole more $52,000 from the center’s bank account in 2009 and 2010.
An investigation into the alleged theft was launched in 2010 after then Parks and Recreation Director Roy Patterson reported to Town Manager Richard Montuori a discrepancy in deposits for the recreation center.
The investigation revealed that Morris, who handled payments for recreational services and summer youth programs, allegedly stole cash payments made by Tewksbury families for their children’s program registration. From May 1 to Sept. 15, 2010, there were no cash deposits into the recreation department’s accounts despite cash payments from parents.
It is also alleged that Morris stole additional cash from families who made cash payments for daily lunches, field trips, and other fees associated with the summer recreation programs. According to investigators, Morris allegedly set up a payroll account in the name of a family member, and collected and cashed 11 paychecks without the family member having any knowledge or ever working for the town. In total, it is alleged that Morris stole $20,485 in 2009 and $31,457 in 2010 and used the money to fund a prescription drug habit.
Meanwhile, Patterson, 60, is also facing charges. Patterson is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 20 on charges of larceny under $250 and violating the municipal employees’ conflict-of-interest law.
Patterson allegedly added hours to employee paychecks and took the cash difference to pay other employees, including his son, a violation of state ethics laws.
The Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case is Rachel Perlman. The Victim Witness Advocate is Amanda Zacchilli.