Marion Town Clerk Ray Pickles denies any wrongdoing in his answer filed July 23 to a complaint alleging that he defrauded the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District (CMWRRDD) while serving as the district’s executive director, blaming old age and the lack of professional support for the various discovered financial discrepancies pertaining to the district.
“In recent years, due to my age and limited professional support, my record keeping has not been what it was during my time as Town Manager in Marion and during my early years with the CMWRRDD,” wrote Pickles, 84, in his signed affidavit. “I deny the alleged wrongdoing. I believe that all of my actions were taken in the best interests of the CMWRRDD.”
Pickles further stated that over the years he had presented the CMWRRDD Committee with monthly warrants for committee approval and that, to the best of his knowledge, “[all] payments made from the budget were approved by the Board and were made for legitimate CMWRRDD expenses.”
According to Pickles, although he was authorized to sign checks as executive director of the district, checks were “generally” drafted and signed by the CMWRRDD bookkeeper after the committee approved the amounts.
Stating that the allegations made against him for Fraud, Conversion and Civil Theft, and Civil Conspiracy, amongst others, are false, Pickles denied ever withdrawing district funds for personal use, did not receive unauthorized checks, and did not steal cash from the district.
“In recent years, I may not have followed all of the technical procedures for approving contracts,” his affidavit reads. “But, I kept the District Committee informed of all business matters involving the CMWRRDD and I consistently provided valuable services to CMWRRDD. I do not believe that I have received any money that was not approved by the … Committee for services provided.”
In his affidavit, and that of Pickles’ wife, Diane Bondi-Pickles, also named as a defendant in the civil complaint, it states that the couple lives month-to-month living off Pickles’ pension, his social security, and the income he still earns as Marion’s town clerk, and have accrued $30,000 in credit card debt. Bondi-Pickles in her affidavit claimed she has no income of her own now that she was asked to resign from her real estate position at a Marion-based agency due to the “negative publicity associated with this case,” she wrote.
Bondi-Pickles claims that, although Pickles named her president of Moss Hollow Management, the corporation he founded in her name in 2000 and used in order to continue to receive payments for his CMWRRDD position after retirement, for about 10 years she has not taken part in Moss Hollow business affairs and was unaware that the Secretary of the Commonwealth involuntarily dissolved Moss Hollow on June 30, 2017.
“I have no knowledge of my husband … wrongfully taking money from the CMWRRDD,” Bondi-Pickles’ affidavit states. “Based upon my family’s financial position which is seriously compromised with credit card debt and limited monthly income, I do not believe that the allegations claiming large amounts of money be [sic] taken are true. I am completely unaware of any withdrawals of money for personal … any unauthorized checks being received … [or] any cash being taken from the CMWRRDD by my husband, myself, or Moss Hollow.”
Robert Tinkham, Jr., the retired Carver health agent and part-time employee of the district who is also named as a defendant in the complaint, filed a motion on July 26 to dismiss the charges against him and the company he owns, 33-35 Wareham Street LLC, also named in the complaint.
Tinkham also served on the CMWRRDD Committee from 1996-2017, stating in his affidavit that he also served as chairman of the committee several times over the years.
“I do not, and have never had any check writing authority on behalf of the district,” Tinkham’s affidavit reads. Tinkham also denies having ever received misappropriated district funds in any form.
Cumulatively, the three are accused of defrauding the district of $838,458.22 between 2012-2018: $294,548 by Pickles, which includes $150,000 allegedly made in cash withdrawals between 2016-2018, $113,321 in unauthorized checks, $31,227 in mileage reimbursements, and an alleged $13,793 in fuel reimbursements, which the district committee alleges were used to fuel Pickles’ private boat.
Pickles and Bondi-Pickles on behalf of Moss Hollow Management are allegedly responsible for another $281,909 from 2012 up until January of 2018 when Pickles was fired, bringing their cumulative total to $576,477.
Tinkham allegedly received about $262,000 in misappropriated district money, which the complaint says Pickles conveyed to Tinkham without committee authorization and discovered in district financial records.
An attachment of real property remains in place for all three defendants for the respective amounts each defendant is accused of embezzling.
Pickles was the executive director for the CMWRRDD since its formation in 1973 until January 29, 2018, and the executive secretary from 1972-2001. He was on the Board of Assessors until he lost the 2018 annual election, and Pickles remains the town clerk, which he has since 2006. He was also the building commissioner for the Town for a number of years.
The district continues to investigate and is undergoing a forensic audit of the district’s finances dating back to 2012, which was when Pickles ceased conducting the required annual audits of the district.
The case is slated for a trial by jury at the Plymouth Superior Court, and The Wanderer will be following it closely as it unfolds.
By Jean Perry