METHUEN — The custodian accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from her union was restored to her former senior position and salary that resulted in a pay hike of almost $20,000 per an agreement with the school department in which key conditions are still undisclosed.
Beth Reuter was fired May 26, 2011, after she was accused of writing checks to herself for more than $6,200 while she was treasurer of the Methuen Custodial Association, according to police and school department records. But she was hired back at a lower pay rate in an agreement signed nearly six months later.
The school department released a copy of that agreement, however several specifics on the conditions of her return were redacted.
“On May 27, she returned to her Senior Custodian position per agreement,” Superintendent Judith Scannell wrote in a July 23 memo to The Eagle-Tribune. Reuter’s salary starting May 27 is $62,906.00, which is the same amount she made before she was fired in 2011, according to school department payroll records.
When she was rehired, Reuter was assigned to the central administration building, according to the school department. As of May 27, she was returned to her previous assignment at Central Grammar School “per agreement,” according to a school department payroll document.
She and Patrick Winn, a former custodian who served as union treasurer in 2010 and resigned from the school department June 30, 2011, are scheduled for a jury trial in Lawrence District Court Sept. 27, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Scannell said yesterday she could not comment further on personnel matters. She also said she could not comment on Reuter’s upcoming criminal trial and how that may affect Reuter’s employment until a resolution is reached in court.
Methuen Police began an investigation after a union official, elected as treasurer in February 2011, provided them with documents and bank statements dating back to 2005, according to a police report. From 2005 on, Reuter allegedly took $6,235.95 from the union account by writing checks to herself, though police believe she tried to return at least some of the funds.
Winn, who was elected treasurer and took over from Reuter in 2010, allegedly took $22,400 also by writing checks to himself, according to the police report. Winn and his attorney made a payment in February 2011 to the union of $22,975, which included the $22,400, a missing $550 deposit and a $25 overdraft fee, according to police.
Reuter was charged with 28 counts of larceny. Winn was charged with 27 counts, police said.
Scannell fired Reuter o May 26, 2011, after charges were filed against her and Winn. Reuter appealed her termination with the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission. On Nov. 21 attorneys from both sides jointly asked that the appeal be dismissed with prejudice due to a settlement agreement.
That settlement agreement was signed Nov. 10 and Reuter’s payroll authorization was signed Nov. 23. However, the effective date on the payroll authorization was Oct. 17 for an hourly rate of $20.78, which is a total of $43,222.40 based on a 40-hour work week.
Reuter was hired by the school department in 1988. She and one other custodian both earn the highest salary of the 62 custodians at the school department. The average base income for custodians is $42,333.87, according to school department records.
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