Dawn Marie Medford is charged with theft of more than $5,500 in cash from the Haverhill Treasurer and Tax Collector’s office.
The total amount of money – a combination of cash and checks – allegedly taken by a former employee from the Haverhill Treasurer and Tax Collector’s office exceeds $33,000, according to city Finance Director Charles Benevento.
WHAV was the first to publish news of the theft. In an exclusive report on Jan. 16, Mayor James J. Fiorentini set the amount of the loss at $4,000 in cash.
Benevento said subsequent investigation, including a study by an outside auditing firm, showed the total amounts taken were just over $5,500 in cash, and about $27,600 in checks.
Police charged Dawn Marie Medford, 46, a resident of Haverhill’s Bradford section, with two counts of larceny over $250 and one count of larceny under $250. She is not charged with cashing any of the missing checks.
Medford is scheduled to return to Haverhill District Court on Feb. 16 for pre-trial motions.
Benevento said the Treasurer and Tax Collector’s office has contacted all residents whose check payments were lost, and have been given the opportunity to make their payments again. They will incur no additional charges or fees, he said.
Fiorentini said the city has filed an insurance claim for part of the missing cash and has attached Medford’s city pension fund. If the city recovers on both actions, it will leave roughly $600 that the city would try to recover through court action.
According to Benevento, five batches of deposits went missing between June and November 2016. Three contained tax payments made directly to the Treasurer and Tax Collector’s office. The others were so-called department turnovers, and contained payments for such items as permit fees. One of the two department turnovers came from the City Clerk’s office, Benevento said.
The city eventually was alerted to the alleged thefts by a resident who called asking why her check had yet to clear, Fiorentini said. The additional missing deposits were discovered as the Treasurer’s office researched the resident’s inquiry.
Benevento told city councilors the thefts went unnoticed as a result of inadequate procedures for reviewing discrepancies in bank reconciliation reports.
Reduced staffing levels – the Tax Collector’s office currently operates with half the employees it once did – played a part in allowing the alleged theft to go unnoticed, Fiorentini said.
Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua suggested the mayor invite the presidents of local banks to review the cash-tracking procedures the city has put in place and suggest any additional safeguards.
In addition to changing some of the procedures for tracking uncashed checks and other bank statement discrepancies, Fiorentini said the city will guard against a recurrence by installing cameras in the Tax Collector’s office.