PITTSFIELD — Jennifer Thurston told police she began pilfering checks from Jiminy Peak residents to help support a painkiller addiction she developed while recovering from knee surgery.
Thurston, 44, of Adams is accused of illegally depositing over $23,000 worth of checks, intended to pay for things like landscaping and snow plowing from those that own condominiums on the Hancock resort's campus.
This is not the first time Thurston has been accused of financial crimes.
In 2012, she was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to stealing between $70,000 and $110,000 over a 10-year span while employed as a teller at the Pittsfield branch of TD Banknorth.
Thurston's attorney, Jill Sheldon said Thursday she was not able to comment on her client's new case at this time.
The investigation into Thurston's most recent charges began on April 8, when Jiminy Peak staff received a message from a condo owner who said it appeared one of the checks he'd used to pay his management fee was altered.
The check appeared to have been altered to show Thurston as the payee instead of Jiminy Peak and it appeared she had also endorsed the check.
Investigators compared the signature on the check to Thurston's signature on her employment application and they appeared to match.
Thurston was employed by the resort as an owner liaison and one of her responsibilities was to collect the checks from the mail room and credit the owner's account.
Investigators allege Thurston stole and altered up to 30 checks and illegally deposited them into unauthorized accounts instead of Jiminy Peak's account.
According to police, the total amount alleged to have been stolen is $23,387.09 over a period from Dec. 15, 2015 and April 1, 2016.
An internal investigation into the resort's finances showed 30 checks entered into the accounting system never made it into the resort's bank account, though the condo owners' accounts were credited.
Thurston herself was interviewed by police on April 9 and, at first, denied any knowledge of the missing checks.
After being confronted with an altered check, she allegedly said she would stop wasting the investigator's time and admitted to fraudulently depositing the checks.
She said she developed a dependence on painkillers following past knee surgeries and that was why she had begun stealing the checks about three months prior to that interview.
She would alter them to show her name as the recipient and then deposit them at various branches of the Greylock Federal Credit Union.
Thurston said no tellers ever questioned the authenticity of the checks.
A warrant was issued for Thurston's bank records which showed all the checks which had been reported missing were deposited into accounts to which Thurston had access.
Twenty-five were deposited into a joint account she shared with her husband, four were deposited into her daughter's account and the remaining check was split among all three accounts, police said.
Surveillance images from the banks showed Thurston on the days and times that correspond to the deposits of the stolen checks.
Checks ranged in value from $318 to $2,320, according to court documents.
Thurston was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court Tuesday before Judge John Agostini and entered not guilty pleas to 59 counts; 29 each of uttering a false check and forgery of a check and one count of larceny over $250 as an ongoing and continuing offense and was released on her personal recognizance.
"There is no question that Thurston abused her position ... for her own financial gain," according to police.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.