Trial tentatively set for ex-Great Barrington Town Hall worker in embezzlement case

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GREAT BARRINGTON — An October trial tentatively has been set for a former longtime employee in the town treasurer/collector's office accused of stealing from town coffers.

Deborah Ball, 64, of Great Barrington, allegedly pocketed more than $100,000 in property and excise taxes paid in cash from 2015 to 2018, while working as assistant treasurer/collector in Town Hall. She was indicted by a Berkshire County grand jury last year on charges of larceny and embezzlement.

She is currently free on personal recognizance.

Court officials said a number of factors will determine whether the Berkshire Superior Court trial can begin in October, including a backup of cases due to COVID-19 and the availability of jurors. The trial previously had been scheduled for May.

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Ball was fired in March 2019, after officials discovered the alleged theft in a 2018 audit.

She allegedly stole taxpayer money through a Ponzi scheme in which she would hide cash shortfalls by applying other tax payments made by check, according to investigators.

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Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said last year that the financial audit had not yet been completed and investigators were looking at records as far back as 2012 to see how far back the alleged thefts were taking place.

In response, town officials have found ways to prevent such a theft in future, and they reminded residents that the town is bonded and insured.

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The treasurer/collector's office collects residents' property, personal and excise taxes, as well as sewer bills, and alarm charges and permits. The office also takes payments for the Great Barrington Fire District Water Department.

Ball pleaded not guilty to one count each of larceny over $1,200 by a single scheme and embezzlement by a municipal or county officer.

The state police detective unit attached to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office led the investigation, with cooperation from Great Barrington Police.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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