HAVERHILL — A former officer of a Haverhill Masonic lodge admitted yesterday to embezzling more than $60,000 from the group over a five-year period.
Richard MacInnis, 53, who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., entered a plea of guilty to 15 counts of embezzlement and two counts of felony larceny during a hearing in Salem Superior Court.
Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced MacInnis to two years of probation, and ordered him to pay $60,000 in restitution to the Haverhill Knights Templar.
Prosecutor Phil Mallard, who had asked for jail time for MacInnis, told the judge that the defendant was using his access to the organization’s charitable accounts to write checks to himself for more than $35,000.
He also accessed accounts online to pay $20,000 worth of credit card bills with electronic transfers and to transfer money to his own bank account to cover costs associated with the sale of his former home in New Hampshire.
The total amount of fraud is not known, Mallard told the judge, because before moving to Florida, MacInnis also destroyed financial records.
Mallard also said MacInnis filed for bankruptcy in the midst of the thefts, but never reported any of the stolen money to the bankruptcy trustee. He was then able to purchase a condo in Florida.
Defense lawyer Geoffrey Nathan urged Whitehead to continue the case without a finding for 10 years, with an order of restitution, a finding that would have spared MacInnis from a record of conviction.
“In desperate times, desperate people do stupid things that hurt people,” Nathan acknowledged. “He knows that what he did was wrong.”
MacInnis arrived to court with a cashier’s check for $20,000, which he handed over to his former brother Masons yesterday; he’ll have to make monthly payments of $1,666 a month for the next four years or face going to jail, Whitehead told him.