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February 14, 2013

Custodian convicted for stealing from union

(Continued)

“What’s missing from the evidence is there’s no information about what happened to this money,” he told the jury.

Reuter also must pay full restitution, which will be determined at a hearing scheduled for April, and undergo a substance abuse interview with the probation department.

In 2007, she was charged after trying to buy cocaine in a Home Depot parking lot with her children in the car. Uhlarick said yesterday that Hogan had suggested Reuter took the money to satisfy a drug habit. “It still is not clear, though, why,” he said.

DiGuilio testified that union dues, at $10 per month, are deposited in the union account and used for donations, officer pay, a bereavement payment when someone in a member’s family has died, and for incidentals like donuts for meetings. The membership of the union hovers in the mid-50s and covers custodians at Methuen Public Schools.

Reuter was originally charged with one larceny count for each of the checks she wrote to herself, but those all were consolidated into the single felony larceny by scheme charge, which encompassed all the checks.

The checks were discovered after an officer in the Methuen Custodial Association reviewed account records in 2011. Patrick Winn, a former custodian at Methuen schools and a one-time secretary/treasurer, was charged with stealing $22,400 from the union. He pleaded guilty to a single felony larceny charge in September and was sentenced to one year of probation.

Methuen police arrested Winn in March 2009 on gambling charges after two men said they placed bets of thousands of dollars on sports with him. He admitted to sufficient facts for one of the charges, and his case was continued the case without a finding, according to court documents.

Scannell fired Reuter on May 26, 2011, after criminal complaints were filed in district court, and Reuter appealed to the Civil Service Commission. Reuter and the School Department signed a settlement agreement in November 2011 that brought her back to work, at a lower base wage that totaled $43,222.40 per year. Six months later, on May 27, 2012, her salary was bumped back up to $62,905, the rate she was payed before she was fired, according to School Department records.

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