By Dave Rogers
WEST NEWBURY — The former chairwoman of the Pentucket Regional School Committee faces 30 charges of credit card fraud and larceny after, police say, she stole as much as $60,000 over several years from the West Newbury couple who hired her to oversee their personal finances and small business.
Maureen A. Moran, of 3 Landau Lane, Merrimac, turned herself in to state police Friday and was arraigned yesterday in Newburyport District Court on nine counts of forgery of a check and larceny over $250, three counts of falsify/omit entry in books, one count of improper use of a credit card over $250 and eight counts of uttering a false check. If convicted, Moran, whose term on the Pentucket Regional School Committee expired last year, could spend up to 10 years in state prison or two years in jail for each of the most serious felonies. Moran is free on $2,000 cash bail and is due back in court on May 10 for a pretrial hearing.
According to court documents, the charges against Moran stem from a period between July 2006, to March 2008, when she served as bookkeeper for the Boston Coaching Company, a small business focusing on career development and management, run out of the home of a West Newbury couple.
Originally hired in 2001 as an office assistant working 10 hours a week, Moran's responsibilities were increased in 2002 and again in 2005 to include overseeing the couple's personal finances. She was also responsible for filing the couple's tax returns. Never filing a time card, Moran was trusted implicitly by her employers and would get paid no more than $300 a month, according to court documents.
During that time, according to the police report of state Trooper Robert C. LaBarge Jr., Moran used the couple's American Express Card to purchase dinners, gasoline, groceries and shopping excursions between April 2006 and December 2007. Among the places police say Moran used the charge card were Applebee's Restaurant, Linen and Things, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the American Girl Company, Jewel in the Crown in Newburyport, The Gap and Sal's Pizza in Amesbury. In all, police say Moran charged $8,512 to the American Express Card over that time period.
Police also say that Moran forged the signature of her employees on several checks written to herself and others in amounts ranging from $300 to $5,500. Police estimated that the unauthorized checks written to Moran herself amounted to $9,750.
"It's great news that she has been arrested and arraigned," said Vincent Harrild, one of the victims.
A call to Moran's attorney, Milton Cranney of Andover, was not returned.
Moran was fired from her job in June 2008 for alleged incompetence, and by the time of her firing, the victims were more than $60,000 in debt, according to court documents.
Harrild said the couple started getting suspicious in 2009 when they received a tax bill from the Internal Revenue Service for more than $43,000, stating that the couple had not filed their taxes in 2007.
The case against Moran was first investigated by West Newbury police in May 2010, when the couple reported allegations of embezzlement and larceny.
The investigation was initially conducted by officer Royster Johnson IV who wrote in his report that as early as 2005, the business was bleeding money and required the constant infusion of capital to keep it operating. At the same time, Moran approached Harrild with the suggestion of refinancing the family's house to obtained needed capital. Moran also approached the victims demanding $10,000 in back wages, according to Johnston's report.
During her lengthy tenure on the Pentucket Regional School Committee, Moran was instrumental in approving several school budgets and was called upon to seek ways to plug budget holes as large as $800,000.
A phone call to current Pentucket Regional School Committee chairman Chris Reading, a former colleague of Moran's, was not immediately returned.