EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 18, 2014

Fraud figure now set at $300K

Woman accused of stealing from St. Ann's considers plea deal

METHUEN — A plea deal is on the table for a Methuen woman accused of embezzling more than $300,000 from a residential school for troubled youths where she was chief financial officer.

Sharon Cutter, 51, of 34 Piedmont St., was previously accused of stealing more than $100,000 from St. Ann’s Home and School. However, in Salem Superior Court yesterday Prosecutor Michael Patten said the amount stolen is “upwards of $300,000.”

Cutter was scheduled to go on trial yesterday. Instead, attorneys had a lobby conference with Judge David Lowy where a possible plea deal was discussed. The deal calls for her to be sentenced to 21/2 years in jail, with one year to be served and balance suspended, followed by five years probation, Lowy said.

Cutter would also have to pay restitution, which would be determined in court.

No action on the plea was taken yesterday. Cutter has until her next court date on May 19 to decide if she will accept the terms or risk going to trial.

The majority of the lobby conference was held in open court yesterday, where the case itself and plea details were discussed. During the conference, Cutter’s defense attorney James Krasnoo did ask to speak privately at sidebar with Lowy to discuss issues regarding Cutter. Krasnoo said he did not want a reporter in the courtroom to hear the remarks involved.

Lowy did say in court yesterday that he would not order community service for Cutter “based on health issues.”

Cutter, who is divorced, has no previous criminal record.

An internal audit at St. Ann’s in 2011 revealed Cutter used St. Ann’s credit cards “to purchase items for personal use,” according to court papers.

The theft occurred from 2006 to 2011, if not longer, according to court papers.

Court paperwork also indicated that Cutter admitted to using the St. Ann’s credit card to purchase items for her boyfriend’s restaurant. Those items included stainless steel coffee creamers and sugar caddies, water pitchers, a laptop computer and other kitchen equipment, according to court papers.

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