NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 12, 2014

State claims against Reams are many

Sexual harassment, ethical lapses, financial mismanagement among the complaints

(Continued)

The state also accuses Reams of improper use of county funds.

The state claims Reams manipulated a forfeiture account, fines collected through liquor and gambling enforcement. In doing so, the complaint says, Reams misrepresented applicable statute to the county commissioners. The statute, the complaint states, clearly directs such funds be paid to the county, not to the county attorney’s office.

Reams allegedly deposited those misdirected funds into an account with federal funds awarded for helping with federal drug cases. The state does not contest the appropriateness of Reams’s office receiving the federal drug money, but says he was not entitled to the forfeiture funds and the two should not have been commingled.

The state claims Reams spent nearly $250,000 of those “unappropriated funds” between 2003 and 2013 to reimburse himself for travel, meals, office equipment and other expenses.

The county attorney spent money “for which the County Convention had no appropriation,” in violation of state law, the complaint says.

The complaint says Reams converted county funds for his own benefit and that of his office, and submitted “false and misleading documents to federal, state and county officials.”

Gambling and liquor enforcements fines are, by statute, directed to the town, county or state for whom the prosecutor works, not to the prosecutor.

But, since 2005, the complaint alleges, Reams was depositing those fines in an account maintained by his office and controlled solely by him.

“Notably, none of the other nine county attorneys maintains a similar account,” the complaint notes.

The accounting practice continued until late 2012, when the County Commission contested it. Reams, in response, “misrepresented” state statute and told commissioners the fines were to be paid to the prosecutor, the complaint alleges.

It further alleges Reams failed to file timely certifications and affidavits regarding asset forfeiture funds, then did so years later in order to qualify for more federal funds.

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