Lisa Wallace, the former St. Mark’s Church nursery school worker accused of pocketing $15,571.06 from the school, has been jailed on a charge of Theft by Unauthorized Taking by a Rockingham County Superior Court judge in Brentwood.
Wallace pleaded guilty and Judge N. William Delker on April 17 sentenced her to 12 months in jail, with 10 months suspended.
Wallace must perform 80 hours of community service when she is released under the direction of her probation officer, and must pay $2,124.18 restitution plus a 17 percent administration fee. She must also participate in any counseling, treatment or education program the probation officer deems appropriate.
According to the charge, Wallace “purposely, pursuant to a scheme or course of conduct, exercised unauthorized control over the property over St. Mark’s Church, doing business as The Evangelist Nursery School… (she) made unauthorized debit transactions using St. Mark’s debit card belonging to St. Mark’s Church for purchases and cash withdrawals, said transactions totaling in excess of $1,500.”
In a June 13, 2013 statement by Director of Communication for the Diocese of Manchester Kevin Donovan, Wallace, who served as director of St. Mark Nursery School from September 2008 to June 2012, was arrested by Londonderry police on June 7, 2013 for the theft of St. Mark Nursery School funds.
According to the arrest affidavit, on April 2, 2013 Detective Kristen L. Gore was notified by David Gabert, director of Parish and School Financial Services for the Diocese of Manchester, that Wallace made many inappropriate and unapproved withdrawals and purchases on the nursery school checking account during her employment at the school, starting in September 2008 until after her resignation on June 7, 2012. The account in question, Gore said, is with St. Mary’s Bank in Londonderry, and Gore was called in by the Diocese to handle the internal investigation regarding the missing funds.
Gore said in her affidavit that in the summer of 2011 Reverend Frederick Pennett made the decision to have the nursery school payroll completed by the parish bookkeeper. In the spring of 2012, Rev. Pennett set in motion the plan to have all of the nursery school finances completed by the parish. Shortly after, on May 21, 2012, Wallace notified the parish that she was resigning from her position. Her last day of employment at the school was June 7, 2012.
Gore said Wallace did not turn in her school-issued debit card and on June 11, 2012, four days after her last day of employment, Wallace made eight ATM cash withdrawals in Wakefield, Mass., for $300, each totaling $2,400.
“In my review of the documentation provided by Mr. Gabert, I found that Lisa Wallace made what appeared to be 80 debit card transactions totaling $15,571.06,” Gore wrote. “These transactions started in June 2011 and ended on June 11, 2012. Out of the 80 transactions made, 10 were committed within the Town of Londonderry that could not be explained. Seven of these were ATM cash withdrawals at the St. Mary’s Bank ATM machine and three purchases made to include a local nail salon, the T.J. Maxx clothing store and Dunkin’ Donuts. The total amount of unauthorized transactions made by Wallace in the Town of Londonderry is $1,576.70.”
According to Gore, on June 12, 2013, upon realizing these “very suspicious” ATM withdrawals and purchases, church personnel notified St. Mary’s Bank to freeze Wallace’s debit card and to freeze all related accounts. Since that date, there have been no further “questionable” transactions on any of the accounts.
Wallace hired Attorney Sandra Bloomenthal and turned herself in to Londonderry police on June 14, 2013.