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Reporter charged with thefts; Golf shop lost $100K.

Byline: Donna Boynton

UXBRIDGE - A well-known Central Massachusetts reporter is facing criminal charges that he stole $100,000 from a Sutton golf course where he worked as pro shop manager.

Kenneth P. Powers, 49, of 36 Abbott St., No. 4B, Worcester, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 28 in Uxbridge District Court on one count of larceny over $250. A criminal complaint was issued Jan. 11.

At the time of the alleged theft, Mr. Powers was golf pro shop manager at Blackstone National Golf Club on Putnam Hill Road, Sutton.

According to a police report filed with the court by Sutton police, the charges stem from a lengthy investigation that began last summer when owners of the golf club reported to police in June that nearly $100,000 had disappeared from the pro shop during the 2009 golf season. They said discrepancies in cash reports had been found by their accountants.

Mr. Powers, who had been employed by the club since 2006, was fired June 18.

Mr. Powers did not return a call seeking comment. His lawyer, Richard Rafferty, issued a statement yesterday about the charge.

"We want to make it very clear that other people had access to the money," Mr. Rafferty said.

The Worcester-based lawyer added, "Mr. Powers is confident that he will be exonerated once all the facts are heard."

Mr. Powers, a news and sports reporter for, also worked as a freelance reporter for area newspapers, including the Community Advocate of Westboro and the Gardner News.

In 2005, Mr. Powers was fired by the Telegram & Gazette for plagiarism.

Police said club officials had suspected Mr. Powers had something to do with the missing money, and said he was one of a small number of people with access to the missing cash, determined to be $99,878.

The court documents show that Mr. Powers was struggling with debt and his paycheck from Blackstone National was being garnisheed by the IRS for $5,192.66 and the state Department of Revenue for $954.49. Mr. Powers worked at the club more than 40 hours a week during the golfing season, and earned $16,795, according to a 2009 W-2 form on file at the court. According to court documents, the pro shop was operated by Mulligan Enterprises LLC, owned by Matt Stephens, who is also Blackstone National's golf pro.

In addition to sales of merchandise, the pro shop collected fees for use of the course such as greens and cart fees.

At the end of each day, all sales were totaled, the registers were counted, and a "cash close spreadsheet" - an itemized list of money in each cash register drawer - was created. The pro shop was paid in cash for merchandise sold from the shop.

That cash was then placed in a bag in a safe with a report to be picked up and deposited the next day. If there was extra cash, it would be accounted for and left in the safe.

In August 2009, a cash flow shortage was noticed and there was not enough cash on hand to compensate the pro shop. At the time, court documents show the shortage was attributed to the bad economy and the rainy weather, but the problem progressed throughout the season.

The golf course contacted an accounting firm to help identify the problem. The accounting firm found that no checks and balances were in place by the pro shop and that under such a system, an employee could steal excess cash out of the bank envelope daily, undetected. The accounting firm also identified thousands of dollars in cash transactions at the register that did not reconcile with daily reports documenting cash received. It was estimated that the loss was about $100,000 for the 2009 season.

Court documents indicate

it was later determined that an employee was manipulating daily cash reports while stealing cash out of the bank envelope daily.

Mr. Powers, as pro shop manager, was one of six people to have access to the cash and was responsible for opening and closing cash registers at the end of the night; creating the closing sheets and end-of-day sales reports; and depositing the cash.

According to court documents, those reports were found to be fraudulently manipulated to conceal the theft, and his reports showed daily cash deposits to envelopes significantly lower than cash receipts recorded at the register.

Mr. Powers was confronted in December 2009 when a bank bag was short $1,000.

Club administrators had recalled that two members had paid their dues in large bills, totaling $2,600. Mr. Powers admitted he took the cash, but said he had intended to replace it with a personal check, according to the court documents. That personal check later bounced, and Mr. Powers was suspended for a week and later returned to work.

Court documents show that Mr. Powers had sent several e-mails indicating he would return the $1,000, but the money was not repaid.


CUTLINE: Mr. Powers
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 21, 2011
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