EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 14, 2013

Police: Londonderry church employee embezzled thousands

Nursery school director charged with stealing $16K

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The former director of a church nursery school is charged with embezzling nearly $16,000 before she resigned last year.

Lisa Wallace, 41, of Wakefield, Mass., stole money from St. Mark the Evangelist Church, where she worked from September 2008 to June 2012, police said.

Wallace, who turned herself in to police Friday, faces a single felony theft charge, according to Londonderry police Lt. Ryan Kearney.

The Diocese of Manchester contacted police in April after learning money was missing from the church, Kearney said. Wallace resigned from her job a year ago, but he did not know why.

“She was in charge of the books there, so it kind of went under the radar,” he said.

The diocese and church would not comment on her arrest or resignation. She was released on $5,000 personal recognizance and is to be arraigned June 24 in 10th Circuit Court in Derry.

Wallace used the church’s automated teller card to withdraw money on numerous occasions, police said. She made $15,570 in purchases in several New Hampshire and Massachusetts communities, Kearney said.

“She had access to the account and used that account to buy school supplies,” he said. “She was then using it to make personal purchases.”

Those purchases included $1,576 spent in Londonderry at a nail salon, clothing store and Dunkin’ Donuts, he said.

It was also discovered that Wallace continued to make purchases after leaving her job, Kearney said.

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Frederick Pennett, could not be reached for comment. A call to the church was referred to the diocese.

Diocese spokesman Kevin Donovan issued a statement ,but said he couldn’t comment further because police were investigating the matter.

“St. Mark Parish has already taken the necessary steps to strengthen and enhance the internal financial controls at the nursery school and at the parish,” the statement said. “Please join us in praying for all who are involved in this.”

Wallace could not be reached yesterday for comment.