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Ex-clerk held on $1,000 bail; Woman charged in Town Hall break-in.

Byline: Kim Ring

EAST BROOKFIELD -- A former municipal clerk is being held on $1,000 bail after she pleaded not guilty to charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony and breaking into a safe or depository.

The charges stem from the night of July 29, when a security camera captured images of Beth Conant inside Brookfield Town Hall and attempting to open a safe, Assistant District Attorney Michael Luzzo said.

Ms. Conant, 50, had resigned via email from her job at the town hall several days earlier, telling co-workers she planned to get help for her alcohol problems, so there was no reason for her to be inside the building after hours, Mr. Luzzo said.

Ms. Conant nodded Tuesday as a lawyer appointed to represent her during the bail hearing described how Ms. Conant has been staying at a "sober house'' at 2 Oread St. in Worcester, battling addictions to cocaine and alcohol.

But Mr. Luzzo said Ms. Conant was found in an area of Worcester known for drugs and told Judge Maura McCarthy, when she asked, that Ms. Conant may eventually be indicted in Superior Court. He asked that she be held on $10,000 bail, in part because she has family members living outside of the state and because police had to spend several weeks looking for her after the court issued an arrest warrant.

Ms. Conant is suspected of stealing about $50,000 in cash, along with checks that were never cashed nor recovered, during the last year while she worked at Brookfield Town Hall. An auditor reported that he believes she is responsible for the thefts, which happened during a time when Ms. Conant was tasked with making deposits. She has not been charged with the thefts.

The auditor turned up evidence that shows money was missing beginning in the summer or fall of 2013, a report said.

During her appearance Tuesday, Ms. Conant told the judge the "sober house'' where she was staying doesn't have a name. She said she is having trouble getting help with her addiction because of insurance company requirements that need to be met in order for her to be placed in a treatment facility.

Lawyer Marina R. Matuzek, who represented Ms. Conant for the bail hearing, said Ms. Conant wasn't trying to elude police and she is not going to flee. She said Ms. Conant is legally separated from her husband and had been living in West Brookfield with her mother before moving to 2 Oread St. in Worcester.

Ms. Matuzek said she believes Ms. Conant will be charged with other offenses and that while she did not meet the financial requirements for a court-appointed lawyer, she has no money.

She will be held at Framingham State Prison until she posts bail. If she is released, she must remain drug- and alcohol-free.

She is due back in court Oct. 9.

Contact Kim Ring at kim.ring@telegram.com.

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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Ring, Kim
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 10, 2014
Words:496
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