Two years after an investigation was launched which led to the shutdown of the Tewksbury Parks and Recreation Department, former director Roy Patterson was in court Thursday to answer allegations that he engaged in a pattern of fiscal mismanagement.
Specifically, Patterson is charged with larceny under $250 and ethics violations under the State's Conflict of Interest laws. He pled not guilty to both charges and was released on personal recognizance by Lowell District Court Judge Thomas Brennan. He is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 13 for pre-trial conferencing.
Prosecutors allege Patterson padded the time cards of department employees with extra hours. Those employees were paid their normal wages but the department was allocated cash based on the hours submitted. So Patterson would up with extra cash that he allegedly used to pay workers not legally employed by the department, including his son Stephen.
In a press release, Middlesex County District Attorney said this type of conduct by a town department head is a major violation of public trust.
"This defendant violated his position of public trust and authority within the department by adding hours that were not worked to employees' paychecks, to fraudulently and intentionally pay other employees who he knew were not authorized to work at the department," said Leone.
Lauren Bibo-Morris, the department's former business manager, was arraigned last week on charges she embezzled more than $50,000 over the course of two years. Prosecutors allege she stole the money to fund a prescription drug habit.
According to court records, it was Patterson who alerted Town Manager Richard Montuori to irregularities in the deposits being made by Bibo-Morris.
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.
Bibo-Morris is due back in court on Nov. 6 for pre-trial conferencing.