A real estate attachment to the civil action against Ray Pickles and his wife Diane Bondi-Pickles will remain for now until the judge issues his decision in the next few days after the preliminary injunction hearing on Tuesday, July 17, at the Plymouth District Court.
The Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District’s motion for real and personal property attachments for Pickles, Bondi-Pickles, and Moss Hollow Management Corporation were reduced somewhat from the total amount of $838,457 allegedly embezzled to $590,250 in real property, the combined total of the amounts the CMWRRDD says Pickles and Moss Hollow misappropriated — $308,341 and $281,909, respectively.
Bondi-Pickles was listed as the owner and president of Moss Hollow.
CMWRRDD Attorney Gregg Corbo of KP Law said Pickles’ account with Eastern Bank (a Reach and Apply defendant), part of the original ex parte motion to freeze Pickles’ and Bondi-Pickles’ assets, has a zero balance, and Mutual Bank did not reply to the complaint.
Attesting that they meet the elements of a preliminary injunction claim, Corbo asked Judge Jeffrey Locke to “preserve the funds until the trial,” saying, “Once these funds are gone, the taxpayers of the district are forever denied.”
Attorney John Markey, in defense of Pickles and Bondi-Pickles, tore at the CMWRRDD’s complaint and preliminary injunction request, saying the district has not provided the forensic accounting Markey requested. Furthermore, Markey said, he had an affidavit from Barden’s Boat Yard, the only vendor mentioned in the fraud complaint by name, attesting that the $13,793 in fuel the district alleges Pickles paid for with district funds and used for his personal boat is an incorrect amount. According to the affidavit, Markey stated, $4,000 was spent on fuel that was used by district-owned equipment.
Markey told the Court that Pickles is an 84-year-old retiree, unable to access his pension payments and the district has failed to provide a basis for it.
“He has less than $3,000 in his bank account,” Markey said, and that’s all from monthly pension payments. “This is not the time to be tying up someone’s retirement account, when they’re 84 … and trying to pay [his bills].”
Markey said an attachment of real property for the lesser amount of $590,250 was appropriate, adding, “They’re not selling the house and moving to Aruba.”
The district hasn’t met the basic elements for the preliminary injunction, maintains Markey, “And it’s unfair to deny a person’s ability to pay their monthly bills,” he said.
The judge asked Markey questions such as what exactly did Pickles manage as executive director, and was Moss Hollow still an active corporation, which it no longer is, as of June 2017.
Markey defended Pickles’ management of the district, saying, “Mr. Pickles is now 84 … He was more on top of things.”
Markey also defended a third defendant, former health agent for the Town of Carver, Robert Tinkham, also a part-time employee of the district performing inspections of the Carver CMWRRDD facility. Markey said the district’s complaint only alleges two things: that Tinkham “signed a contract with Bondi-Pickles in 2001” of which Tinkham has no recollection, and that Tinkham was double-dipping working as a health agent, while he also allegedly performed inspections for the district.
“I still don’t know what my client is being accused of,” Markey said. That should be taken up by the Town of Carver, he added.
“He’s not a wealthy man,” Markey said of Tinkham, adding that Tinkham is worth only about $7,200 in liquidated assets. Furthermore, the company Tinkham owns, a “campground” known as 33-35 Wareham Street, LLC, may not be attached, as it is property owned by an LLC, Markey said.
Judge Locke took the matter under advisement, but said, as long as both parties agree, Locke would stipulate the real property of Pickles and Bondi-Pickles, and the real property of Tinkham, 10-12 Irene Drive, if they are of sufficient value.
Both parties agreed.
The Plymouth County Retirement Board was also released as a Reach and Apply defendant at the board’s request and with agreement by the two parties.
“Okay, go away,” the judge ordered.
The CMWRRDD filed civil charges on June 22 against Pickles, Bondi-Pickles, the Moss Hollow Management Corporation, and Tinkham, accusing the three of having conspired to defraud and embezzle over $800,000 in public funds between 2012-2017.
The district fired Pickles in January after a financial documents review uncovered suspicious transactions that might not have been kosher. Pickles remains the elected town clerk for the Town of Marion.
The matter is also under investigation by the Inspector General for possible criminal charges.
By Jean Perry