Troy official out of both town jobs after theft arrest
By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff
| Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 12:00 pm
TROY — A town official accused of embezzling thousands from taxpayers has now lost both her jobs.
Selectmen fired Cynthia P. Satas, 62, from her job as administrative assistant to the board Monday, the same day police arrested her on a charge of theft. Now, they say, they are looking for a replacement for her other town job, as the welfare administrator.
Selectmen Chairman William T. Matson said the board held an emergency nonpublic meeting Tuesday night. He declined comment on what was discussed during that meeting, but said the board has agreed to look for a new welfare administrator.
State law prohibits selectmen from firing an elected official, but the conclusion of looking for a new welfare administrator was reached in accordance with state law, Matson said this morning.
Police accuse Satas of using her position as welfare administrator to access town money to pay utility bills for herself and for tenants in rental properties she owns.
Police say more than $15,000 was stolen from the town, starting as far back as 2008, according to an affidavit prepared by N.H. State Police Trooper Sean A. Eaton.
According to the affidavit, the events leading to Satas’ arrest were as follows:
Public Service of New Hampshire first became aware something was amiss with Satas’ accounts when she contacted the company Oct. 7 to ask about a town check that was sent as payment for her account on one of her properties, but not credited to that account.
Two days later, Satas told a PSNH representative that the check, signed by Town Treasurer Janet L. McCullough, was a welfare account and the payment was for a client who lived at one of her properties. The representative said she wasn’t comfortable addressing it without speaking with McCullough to confirm the check should be credited to Satas’ personal account.
The representative then requested a phone number for McCullough, and Satas refused to provide it, according to the affidavit.
On Oct. 24, Troy Police Chief David B. Ellis Jr. called N.H. State Police about a possible embezzlement case involving a town employee. Ellis requested State Police investigate the case, so his department could avoid any potential for a conflict of interest.
Ellis told State Police a senior security agent with PSNH contacted him on Oct. 10 with information that Satas might have been using town funds to pay some of the utility bills on several different properties she owns.
Ellis told State Police he believed Satas could issue checks on behalf of the town, and that she could have access to a stamp of McCullough’s signature.
On Oct. 27, a Cheshire County grand jury issued a subpoena for PSNH to turn over its records about Satas to State Police from Jan. 1, 2008, to the present. PSNH complied with the subpoena on Nov. 13.
Eaton found Satas had several PSNH accounts for properties where she was listed as the landlord, including two in Troy and one in Peterborough. The files also contained account information for her residence at 122 Richmond Road, which lists her and her husband, John, as the account holders.
All bills for the accounts were sent to Satas’ home, and, on most occasions, checks from the town of Troy that were signed by McCullough were submitted as payment, according to the affidavit. At least one check was signed by Assistant Treasurer Sherry A. Carter.
On Dec. 2, State Police executed a search warrant at both Troy Town Hall and at Satas’ residence.
Police found Satas in her office at the town hall, and she didn’t question why they were there and was cooperative in turning over files they requested, according to the affidavit.
Eaton called MuCullough from the town hall to ask if she could provide State Police with the town’s financial information, specifically about checks.
McCullough said she signs the checks, but Satas issues them and should have had all the information.
Satas, who agreed to speak with police, told the state troopers she made the payments to her personal PSNH accounts for the properties, and that the only tenants receiving assistance from the town were her son and his girlfriend.
Satas also told police she had made a payment to a local oil company on behalf of her son and his girlfriend, according to the affidavit.
Police found an application for Satas’ son and his girlfriend that had been filled out after the oil deliveries had been made, and also apparently after the selectmen had spoken to Satas about it because the oil company questioned it, according to the affidavit.
Satas said she doesn’t charge her son and his girlfriend rent, and that was part of why she decided to pay her utility bills using town funds, according to the affidavit.
Eaton also asked her why the town was paying the utility bills for her home. She answered, “I took it upon myself to make that decision,” according to the affidavit.
Satas told police that her husband wasn’t on assistance, and she wasn’t sure if she would qualify. She didn’t ask the selectmen about receiving aid because it would have been embarrassing, according to the affidavit.
She was released on $25,000 personal recognizance, and is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 14 in 8th Circuit Court District Division in Keene.