Former Great Barrington Assistant Tax Collector Charged With Embezzlement
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former Great Barrington assistant tax collected is being charged with embezzlement after allegedly stealing more than $100,000 in excise and property taxes.
Deborah Ball, 63, of Great Barrington was arraigned in Superior Court on Wednesday for what officials are calling a "Ponzi scheme." Ball is accused of taking real estate and excise taxes residents and business owners paid in cash and attempted to cover it up by applying portions of check payments made by others. The scheme was allegedly uncovered in 2018 through an audit by Scanlon and Associates.
"The Town of Great Barrington will continue to work closely with our auditors and state and local authorities until this matter is resolved. The town has implemented proper controls to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future. Regarding the current incident, the Town is bonded and insured for losses such as this," reads a statement from Town Manager Mark Pruhenski.
Ball was indicted on July 31 on charges of embezzlement by a municipal officer and larceny. Officials suspect the embezzlement had been ongoing for at least three years.
"As public officials, we have a responsibility to represent our communities and keep their best interests in mind, but Ms. Ball failed in that critical duty," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a prepared statement. "In bringing these charges, we are holding Ms. Ball accountable for betraying the trust that the community
placed in her."
The district attorney's office said that in 2018 Scanlon and Associates first noticed discrepancies and the State Police assigned to the district attorney's office and Great Barrington police began investigating.
Ball had worked with the town for close to 35 years and was played on administrative leave on Feb. 21 and separated from employment on March 15.