Peterborough town accountant resigns

  • The Peterborough Town House Staff photo by Ben Conant

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/9/2021 2:37:23 PM

Shannon Kelley has resigned as accountant for the town of Peterborough, a position with responsibility for electronic fund transactions.

An investigation is underway regarding $2.3 million in taxpayer money that was stolen in a scam that compromised three such transactions.

Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said Kelley resigned effective Tuesday, but provided no further information about the resignation. Attempts to reach Kelley were unsuccessful.

Under Chapter 194 of the town’s Code Book, the treasurer delegates authority for electronic funds transfer for accounts payable to the positions of payroll/accounts payable and tax collector. Kelley handled accounts payable.

Finance Director Leo Smith retired on August 31. He first let the town know of his retirement plans in March.

MacStay has said it is believed no town staff members were criminally involved in the fraud and that those staff members directly targeted by the thieves were placed on paid leave. She declined to name those placed on leave, but said Wednesday nobody remains on leave.

Town electronic fund transfers intended for the ConVal school district and Beck and Bellucci, a general contractor, were misdirected on July 9, July 26 and August 13.

Through emails, the fraudsters got the town to change the routing of the payments to an account they could access. Once they had the money, they converted it into cryptocurrency to try to prevent the transactions from being reversed.

The U.S. Secret Service has recovered $594,000 of the stolen $2.3 million.

MacStay said she did not have details on how the money was recovered, or if further recovery is possible.

“I was not given any expectation that any of the funds could be recovered, so to have received $594,000 was an unexpected piece of good news,” she said in an email Wednesday.

She said the town awaits word on the extent to which insurance may cover the money lost in the fraud.

A Sept. 21 Select Board meeting is planned to seek authorization to use fund balance money to overspend the budget in order to meet obligations despite the loss of money through the scam.


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