Marion Town Clerk indicted on criminal charges

Mar 18, 2019

MARION — Town Clerk Ray Pickles has been indicted on six counts of larceny after an investigation by Attorney General Maura Healey and Inspector General Glenn Cunha.

On March 18, a state grand jury brought six charges of larceny over $250 against Pickles for allegedly embezzling more than $675,000 from the Carver, Marion and Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District while serving as its executive director.

On the same date, it brought one charge of larceny over $250 and one charge for presentation of false claims against retired Carver Health Agent Robert Tinkham, who served as chair of the district’s board.

Pickles, who served as executive director of the regional refuse district for 45 years until being fired in January 2018, has been at the center of controversy and legal proceedings in the months since irregularities were found in the district’s financial records. He continues to serve as Marion’s elected town clerk.

Pickles and Tinkham will be arraigned in Plymouth Superior Court at a later date.  The district was founded in 1973 as a regional approach to handling waste from the three towns. It
allows the towns to contract jointly with waste-to-energy facility SEMASS in Rochester, and operates transfer stations in member towns.

Funds to operate the district come from a variety of sources, including the three towns. Pickles’ alleged wrongdoing came to light in 2017 when Wareham, Marion and Carver all received bills from the district for the first time in five years — bills ranging from $25,000 for Marion to $89,000 for Wareham.

As local officials and a reorganized oversight board dug into the district’s finances, they found a range of irregularities, dismissed Pickles, and subsequently filed a civil embezzlement suit against Pickles, Tinkham and Pickles’ wife Diane Bondi-Pickles. The suit, alleging the embezzlement of $838,457, is still in the pre-trial stage in Plymouth Superior Court.

Bondi-Pickles served as president of Moss Hollow Management, the consulting company set up to contract with the refuse district for Ray Pickles’ work as executive director. She was not named in the criminal complaint.

Marion, Wareham and Carver cooperated in the Attorney General’s investigation.  The criminal complaint alleges that Pickles had two District accounts that only he knew about
from which he would write himself checks. Pickles allegedly used district funds for personal expenses and billed the district for services he did not perform. The state also alleges that
Tinkham accepted $65,000 from Pickles for services he did not perform.

Pickles’ term as Town Clerk runs through 2020.  In a press release issued following announcement of the indictments, Town Administrator Paul Dawson noted that Marion has no process for recalling elected officials. In fact, Town Meeting previously defeated a proposal to add such a process.

Dawson noted that Marion officials are weighing their legal options at this time. Pickles, who rarely spends time in the Town House, could not be reached for comment on the indictments.