Public defender Anthony Naro told the jury Colby intended to pay all the money back, but became overwhelmed with debt. The recession and multiple burglaries at the Plaistow business put it in tough financial straits, Naro said.
Colby was a member of the club for 19 years.
Naro admitted his client made a “stupid” decision to steal from the organization he loved and helped whenever he could, lending the use of his construction equipment for projects or plowing snow.
“In bad economic times, people with struggling businesses will do stupid things,” Naro said. “It wasn’t what he wanted to have happen at all.”
Naro told jurors that to convict Colby, they must determine he acted with criminal intent, which wasn’t the case, he said.
“He loved these people,” Naro said of club members, “but he never meant to deprive them of that money.”
Assistant County Attorney Stephanie Johnson disagreed. She said Colby’s transfer of money to his own account was proof enough to convict him. Colby was charged with making 60 electronic transfers.
“We know he took the money, he took the money for his business,” Johnson said. “He absolutely had a purpose to deprive them of their money.”
Colby became the club’s treasurer in 2008. He resigned two years later after former club president John Poole confronted him when money was discovered missing from the club’s accounts. An audit revealed $104,000 disappeared.
When Colby was interviewed by a reporter shortly after his indictment in 2012, he denied any wrongdoing.
Members of the 200-member club have said they were surprised when the allegations arose against Colby.
Three of those members sat in the front row of the courtroom during yesterday’s testimony, but left before the verdict was announced. They declined to comment.
Poole testified Monday that the club was able to survive, despite the thefts. He was not in court yesterday.
In April, Poole said the two had known each other for years.
“He was a very good friend of mine,” Poole said at that time. “He was one of the most-liked people down there ...”