EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 25, 2013

Former nursery school director makes court appearance

By John Toole

---- — DERRY — The former director of a Catholic Church nursery school in Londonderry was arraigned yesterday on a felony theft charge alleging she used a parish-provided ATM card for more than $1,500 in unauthorized personal purchases.

No plea was entered for Lisa Wallace, 41, of Wakefield, who had worked for St. Mark the Evangelist Church from September 2008 to June 2012.

She is due to return to court July 17 for a probable cause hearing.

Her attorney, Sandra Bloomenthal of Nashua, declined to comment following the arraignment.

Prosecutor Kevin Coyle said there is significantly more money involved than Wallace is charged with by Londonderry police. But they can only charge her for incidents where the ATM card allegedly was used in town, he said.

It's unclear whether other agencies are investigating Wallace. Coyle said he did not know.

Londonderry police earlier this month said nearly $16,000 was involved in purchases in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Wallace is free on $5,000 personal recognizance.

Court records provided few new details in the case, other than Wallace initially had agreed to talk to police, but her attorney canceled the meeting on her behalf.

Londonderry police have said the ATM card was linked to an account used to purchase school supplies.

Londonderry Detective Kristen Gore, in papers filed with the court, said Wallace did not return the ATM card after resigning last year and church officials then discovered a series of personal purchases including at a nail salon, clothing store and Dunkin Donuts.

Gore said Wallace, who was never given permission to use the ATM card for personal reasons, did not attempt to repay the parish or tell anyone the card was lost.

Police began their investigation in April, court records said.

The church and Diocese of Manchester have not commented on specifics of the case, such as why it took so long for the matter to come before police.

But they have said steps were taken to improve financial controls following the incident and request prayers for all involved.