EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 8, 2011

Former Prep CFO gets probation in thefts

Dalphonse must replay nearly $83,000 to school

DANVERS — The former chief financial officer at St. John's Prep in Danvers will spend five years on probation and must repay nearly $83,000 that he stole from the school, after pleading guilty to larceny and related charges yesterday.

Brian Dalphonse, 42, who had once complained that it was difficult to find work because of publicity about the case, will now be required to tell potential employers of his conviction, Salem Superior Court Judge John Lu ordered during a sentencing hearing.

Prosecutor Elisha Willis had asked for a state prison term of one to three years, to be followed by probation. Willis said officials of the Catholic boys' school, run by Xaverian Brothers, had hoped for the same outcome but were willing to accept that Dalphonse has acknowledged responsibility and would be making restitution.

Dalphonse was indicted last year, months after an audit by the school revealed that the man once responsible for handling the school's finances had been stealing thousands of dollars.

More than half of the money, about $46,000, went to a female subordinate, Paula Avigian, in the form of a new vehicle and cash payments of about $13,000, Willis told Lu during the sentencing.

Avigian was the manager of the campus bookstore and reported to Dalphonse. She has not been charged.

Much of the rest of the money was taken to pay off a car loan for Dalphonse's wife — a feat he accomplished by writing a check to the finance company, AmeriCredit, but entering it in the school's books as a payment to Ameritrade and claiming it was for expenses related to a van.

But Dalphonse also treated himself to a new home entertainment system, describing the new television as school equipment, upgraded his own car and bought a $750 smart phone, Willis told the judge.

The thefts occurred over a two-year period between 2006 and 2008.

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