EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 28, 2011

Pelham to hold library head's job while he's in jail

PELHAM — The library director is heading to jail for six months, but his job will be waiting for him when he gets out.

Robert Rice Jr., 46, was sentenced yesterday to six months behind bars for stealing more than $200,000 when he was the director of Revere Public Library.

Rice was sentenced in Superior Court in Boston on 18 felony charges for taking money from 2005 to 2009, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.

Rice pleaded guilty to fraud and embezzlement charges as part of a plea bargain. He bought numerous items under the pretense they were for the Revere library, but then kept or sold them.

Shortly after resigning in 2009 while under fire in Revere, Rice took the position in Pelham.

Francis Garboski, chairman of the Pelham Library trustees, said yesterday Rice's job is still safe.

"His position will be held until he gets back," Garboski said. "The decision is up to him when he wants to come back."

Among the things Rice bought, allegedly for the library, were a 3-foot replica of a submachine gun, diving gear, a Leica camera, a Rolex watch, Red Sox baseballs, swords and armor. He is believed to have conducted more than 1,500 online auctions.

Judge Carol Ball yesterday sentenced Rice to two years in jail, with all but six months suspended for two years, according to Erika Gully-Santiago, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. Three larceny charges were dropped because they were similar to the embezzlement charges, she said.

Rice must pay $260,000 in restitution. He will write a check for $230,000, with the remaining $30,000 coming from an auction of the items he bought that were seized by police, Gully-Santiago said.

"There were multiple times taken from his home in Revere that the city will have access to sell," Gully-Santiago said.

Rice is to begin serving his sentence tomorrow at the South Bay House of Correction in Boston, she said. He was granted a two-day stay of sentence because of medical issues, Gully-Santiago said.

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