HAVERHILL — Teacher Dan Francescone was found not guilty today of stealing money from two school fund-raisers.
Francescone, a teacher at Whittier Middle School, was accused of stealing $1,263 from a campaign raising money for a student trip to Washington D.C., through the sale of lollipops and $154 from a Nov. 19 school dance. The six-member jury returned the verdict in about two hours.
Prosecutors, police and school officials also alleged more than $20,000 is missing from a variety of activity accounts and fund-raisers that Francescone ran and controlled in 2009 and 2010, including dances, a school store and the lollipop sale.
Francescone, 42, told the jury he began running school dances in 2000 and that he always followed protocols for handling money established by former principals who ran the school prior to Whittier Principal Toni Donais being hired in the summer of 2010. His lawyer argued the case against Francescone was the result of a personality conflict with Donais and a rush to judgment by police.
Francescone had been a science and history teacher at Whittier since 1999. Prior to that, he said he was the director of youth ministries in various other school districts.
He also has coached youth baseball in the city for many years and currently coaches Legion baseball and Little League for his two sons' teams. He is married to former Haverhill School Committeewoman Erin Francescone.
More on this story in tomorrow's The Eagle-Tribune.