NORTH READING — Police Chief Michael P. Murphy reports that the North Reading Police Department on Wednesday arrested the president of the North Reading Athletic Boosters club and charged him with larceny after an investigation revealed he allegedly stole more than $10,000 from the organization meant to help North Reading Public School sports teams.
Police allege that JOHN NORTON, AGE 68, a longtime North Reading resident, solicited donations from residents and businesses on behalf of the Boosters Club and pocketed the proceeds for himself.
“This is a case in which we allege that this well-known member of our community built himself up to be a trusted helper, until reality showed him to be little more than a fraud,” Chief Murphy said. “We believe that this individual stole money that was donated from our citizens to help local sports teams and athletes. We believe that this alleged fraudulent act is isolated to this individual and in no way should reflect negatively on those organizations which raise funds for the right reasons.”
Police began the investigation, in cooperation with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, into NORTON in May of 2014 after he mailed the Police Department a personal check, from his own account, to pay for police detail officers who worked a high school basketball tournament in December 2013. The investigation that followed also revealed that the North Reading Athletic Boosters club has never filed the required charity and financial paperwork with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
The investigation revealed that NORTON was the only officer with access to the bank accounts and maintained sole control and responsibility for depositing fundraising donations to the bank as well as paying vendors. He also had the ability to make purchases or cash withdrawals using a debit card.
Police allege that NORTON fraudulently withdrew $10,700 from the club’s accounts between December 2013 and June 2014, primarily performing cash withdrawals at ATMs and writing checks to “Cash” drawn on the club’s accounts.
As a result, NORTON has been charged with Larceny of Property Over $250 By Embezzlement, in violation of MGL 266 §58. The department has also filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office about the club’s lack of required legal filings.
NORTON was arraigned in Woburn District Court Wednesday afternoon.