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Ex-clerk for town arrested; Bail at $500 in Town Hall break.

Byline: Kim Ring

BROOKFIELD -- A former municipal clerk charged with breaking into the Town Hall at night was arrested in Worcester and is to be arraigned in Western Worcester District Court in East Brookfield on Tuesday.

Beth Conant, 50, of West Brookfield is also a suspect in the theft of checks and about $50,000 in cash from Town Hall, police say, though she has not been charged with those thefts.

She is to be arraigned on charges of breaking and entering into the building at night in late July, and trying to open a locked safe in the tax collector's office where cash, checks and documents are kept.

She was initially arraigned Monday in Central District Court in Worcester and released on $500 bail. A warrant for her arrest was issued about six weeks ago, and police had been searching for her until she was found at 2 Oread St. in Worcester, said Timothy Connolly, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., on Monday.

Ms. Conant worked for the town from October 2012 until July 23 this year, when she resigned, citing a problem with alcohol and her desire to enter treatment as the reason for her departure.

Days after she resigned, a video camera installed after the thefts were discovered allegedly captured images of Ms. Conant inside Town Hall the night of July 29. It appears from images taken by a security camera that she attempted, without success, to open the safe, according to court documents.

An auditor turned up evidence that shows money was missing starting in the summer or fall of 2013, the court documents said. Selectman Stephen J. Comtois Jr. said the amount is between $40,000 and $50,000 in cash. Other town officials said checks were also taken, but never recovered and never cashed or deposited. The checks had been stamped payable to the town only, which would have made it extremely difficult for someone to cash them, town officials said.

The money was missing during a time when Ms. Conant was entrusted with making deposits, the police report said.

If she is convicted, she could face 20 years in jail on each of the counts.

The district attorney's office is involved in the investigation, which is continuing.

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Ring, Kim
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 9, 2014
Words:378
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