LAWRENCE - Police are seeking criminal charges against two people - including the son of a Lawrence city councilor - in connection with computer files and other documents taken from a city parking garage last month by a laid off bookkeeper.
Police Capt. Denis Pierce has requested a probable cause hearing to determine if misdemeanor charges of larceny under $250 should be filed against the ex-worker, Ann Anzalone, 49, of 26 Chatham Circle, Salem, N.H., and Miguel DiMarca, 19, of 7 Warwick Court, Lawrence. DiMarca is the son of City Councilor Nunzio DiMarca.
A clerk magistrate will determine whether there is enough evidence to charge Anzalone and DiMarca with theft of city records and a USB drive (computer storage device).
Anzalone deliberately destroyed files from a city-owned computer and took copies with her on March 23 - her last day of work - to keep information from the city because she was angry about losing her $33,112-a-year job, according to police documents.
"We believe their intent was to disrupt city operations by removing the financial history of the records within the department," Lawrence police Chief John Romero said.
"These charges are the result of an ongoing investigation. However, based on evidence and information received from fellow employees obtained to date, the department feels there is sufficient evidence to request a clerk magistrate's hearing on the matter," Romero said.
Haverhill attorney Marsha Kazarosian, who is representing Anzalone, professed her client's innocence and declared that she "will be exonerated resoundingly" if the case is prosecuted.
"My client is innocent of everything they're alleging she's done," Kazarosian said.
"If it's not made apparent at the clerk's hearing, it certainly will be made apparent if we go any further. How utterly embarrassing for the Police Department that they are wasting their time on this. Nobody stole anything," she said.
Methuen attorney Alfred Zappala, who is representing DiMarca, said he hadn't seen the complaint and had no immediate comment. But he was surprised that the matter has become a criminal one.
Police said they are only seeking misdemeanor charges because investigators can't put a dollar value on the computer records and other documents taken from the Museum Square Garage, where Anzalone worked.
Additional charges could be sought against the two, depending on what evidence is turned up by a state police computer analysis, according to Romero.
One co-worker interviewed by police said he watched DiMarca assist Anzalone in the removal of documents, including a garbage bag containing parking tickets, which are stored at the garage as part of the records keeping process. DiMarca has denied removing any parking tickets or computer CDs from the parking garage. He also denied seeing Anzalone remove any parking tickets, according to police reports.
DiMarca told police he saw Anzalone remove two boxes of files on her last day and noted they were for safekeeping. He said they were duplicates of files kept at City Hall. He also said he cut and pasted files from Anzalone's and his computers onto a flash drive which Anzalone took home with her, the reports said.
"In the absence of both the hard copies of and the computer records, the used parking tickets that were stored in Anzalone's office could have been used as a means of reconstructing financial activity," Pierce said in his report.
"When all three forms of record keeping were intentionally removed by Anzalone and DiMarca, I believe there is a specific intent to keep this information from the City of Lawrence," Pierce wrote.
Kazarosian questioned the timing of the clerk magistrate's hearing, wondering why police didn't await the results of a state police analysis of computers in Anzalone's office.
"That's the most interesting thing in this. What is the rush? If they really think this activity is going on and they're waiting for their forensics to come back, why push this now," Kazarosian said.
"It seems to be politically coincidental. And unfortunately for the city, this is all going to come out. Whatever they're alleging that she took, the city knows full well that they have and always have had copies of."
Larceny involves an intent to deprive permanently, the attorney said.
"Prior to them being taken for safekeeping, it was made clear to the city by my client that she had them and was waiting to find out who she was supposed to give them to. What they're doing is punishing people for safeguarding the city. And that's embarrassing for the city," Kazarosian said.
Anzalone had complained to city officials about a lack of security at the garage, a concern that prompted her to take measures to protect the information at the time she was laid off, according to Kazarosian.