Stockbridge town counsel begins probe into 'scam' that cost town thousands
"Let's let the lawyers get into this," Select Board Chairman Donald Chabon told The Eagle on Wednesday, noting that the excessive equipment delivered to the department consisted of "disposable material." He explained that Town Accountant Ray Ellsworth notified him of the irregularity Nov 1.
During a scheduled Select Board meeting, Chabon read a statement approved by Town Counsel J. Raymond Miyares on the potential criminal activity by an unidentified vendor.
"It appears the town has been the victim of a scam," Chabon stated. "This involved the receipt of supplies in the Fire Department where, over a period of time, an excessive amount of material was received for which an excessive price was billed and-or paid."
"The loss was probably in the range of five figures," he added. Chabon said he did not know the specific amount of the loss to the town or the period of time when the apparently excessive billings were received and payments made.
Chabon said he has asked the town counsel to conduct "an internal inquiry to determine the exact extent of the loss as well as the circumstances surrounding this event."
He added that a report on the investigation is expected to be received in time for the next Select Board meeting, at 7 p.m. Nov. 19.
"Once that information is known, we will address the damage, take whatever corrective action is necessary and advise the community accordingly," Chabon's statement concluded.
He told the Select Board and members of the public attending Wednesday's meeting that there would be no additional official statements until the investigation is completed.
Selectman Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo, also the town's fire chief, and Selectman Terry Flynn declined to add any comment.
Chabon said he is unsure of the details but that the town counsel has agreed to conduct the investigation.
Ellsworth, reached at his other job, as town accountant in Shelburne, said he had been instructed not to provide any further details on the apparent scam.
Town counsel Miyares, of Miyares & Harrington LLP in Wellesley, told The Eagle he had no further information since he is just about to begin the inquiry requested by Chabon.
Clarence Fanto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.