Families who requested Troy Christmas gifts still a mystery

Families who requested Troy Christmas gifts still a mystery

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
| Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015

TROY — Christmas has come and gone, but Troy police still have a stack of gifts that never made it to a home.

The gifts were collected as part of an annual tradition where children of families who can’t afford to purchase presents make Christmas gift wishes.

Those wishes are written on tags that only identify the ages and genders of the children, and those tags are hung on a Christmas tree at the TD Bank on Central Square for people to fulfill. People return the gifts with their corresponding tags to the bank, and from there, the local police department helps distribute them.

Police Chief David B. Ellis Jr. said Monday that seven families who requested gifts haven’t come forward, leaving 15 to 20 presents unclaimed.

For years, the event has been coordinated by Cynthia P. Satas, who was the town’s welfare administrator and administrative assistant to the selectmen until N.H. State Police arrested her on Dec. 8, on allegations she embezzled thousands of dollars from the town.

The selectmen fired Satas from her administrative assistant post the same day, and are also looking to fill the job of welfare administrator, which is an elected position.

In the meantime, Ellis is serving as the interim town welfare administrator, and separate from that, he also took on the Christmas gift wishes program, which helps families in Troy and Fitzwilliam.

At the time, tags had already been hung on the tree with gift requests for children in 11 families, but town officials couldn’t find the paperwork identifying those families, Ellis said in December.

He talked to Satas, who gave him a couple of names to check, and he was able to track down four of the families, he said.

As for the remaining seven families, he had hoped they would call either the police station, town offices, or the bank, so his officers could get the gifts to them in time for Christmas, but that never happened.

However, two families in need of Christmas gifts for their children did call him the day before Christmas looking for help, Ellis said. He told them if he didn’t hear from any of the seven families by 6 p.m. that day, he would deliver some of the unclaimed gifts to them, which he did.

The remaining gifts are being kept at TD Bank, and the plan is to distribute them to local children in the event a child’s toys are destroyed in a house fire, he said.

He plans to meet with bank manager Scott J. Brown to discuss ways they can continue the program. He’s also thinking about talking to Fitzwilliam officials about doing something more formal between the two towns, he said.

“We want to do it so people wouldn’t be missed,” he said.

Richard C. Guerriero Jr., a Keene defense lawyer who is representing Satas, declined comment on the situation.

A Cheshire County grand jury recently indicted Satas on charges of theft by unauthorized taking and theft by misapplication of property, both class A felonies, and fraudulent use of a uniform facsimile signature of a public official, a class B felony. An indictment is not an indication of guilt. It is a determination by the grand jury that prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

Prosecutors allege Satas paid utility bills for her Richmond Road home and for rental properties she owns in Troy and Peterborough using Troy town funds between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 8, 2014.

They also allege she fraudulently used a facsimile of town treasurer Janet L. McCullough’s signature on or about Dec. 26, 2011, to sign a check.

Satas was released on personal recognizance and is scheduled to be arraigned in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene on Wednesday.