Judge lowers asset attachment in Pickles embezzlement case
In the latest action in the $800,000 embezzlement suit brought against Marion Town Clerk Ray Pickles, his wife, and the retired Carver health agent, a Plymouth County Superior Court judge last week lowered the value of personal assets that are frozen until the suit is resolved and released the Plymouth County Retirement Board from its defendant status.
Pickles, Diane Bondi-Pickles and Robert Tinkham Jr. are accused in the civil suit brought by the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse District of embezzling $838,457 from the district over the course of five years, starting in 2001.
During that time, Pickles served as executive director of the district through his consulting company, Moss Hollow Management.
In court on July 17, attorney John Markey successfully argued to lower the amount of attached personal and real estate assets of Pickles and Bondi-Pickles to $590,250. Tinkham's asset attachment was lowered to $262,000. Each had previously had assets attached at $838,457.
Markey told Judge Jeffrey Locke that the defendants "are not rich people" and that the non-payment of benefits and seizure of financial assets was causing all of them financial hardship.
Pickles and his wife are accused, among other things, of setting up dummy corporations in attempts to defraud the public through their Moss Hollow Management Corp.
Tinkham is accused of, among other things, conflict of interest for performing paid inspections for the refuse disposal district while working as the Carver town health agent.
Also on the 17th, Locke granted a request by attorneys for the Plymouth County Retirement Board that the board be removed as a defendant in the suit. The attorneys argued that the board had no culpability in the alleged deceptions taking place.
Locke agreed and released the retirement board as a defendant. However, he held in place an order that the retirement board not pay Pickles and Tinkham retirement benefits "until the debt owed the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District is paid."
The July 17 hearing was one of an expected long series of legal proceedings related to waste district finances.
The district was formed in 1973 as a regional approach to handle waste from the participating three towns. It allows those towns to jointly contract with waste-to-energy facility SEMASS in Rochester, and it operates transfer stations in each town.
The district’s day-to-day operations are overseen by an executive director. Pickles served in that position from 1973 until Jan. 29, 2018 when he was discharged by members of the Carver, Marion and Wareham Regional Refuse District Committee, which has ultimate authority over the district.
According to the court documents, the alleged misconduct came to light after Pickles charged each of the towns an assessment in 2017 without the district committee’s authorization. It was the first time the towns had received an assessment in five years. Those assessments totaled $89,000, $59,000 and $25,000 for Wareham, Carver and Marion, respectively.
In Pickles’ absence, the committee has taken over operations and will perform a forensic audit of the district’s financials.
Although the current embezzlement suit is a civil action, it does not preclude a criminal complaint pending the outcome of the forensic audit.
Meanwhile, the 84-year-old Pickles remains in office as Marion Town Clerk, a part-time elected position he has held for more than a decade. He retired as Marion town administrator in 2000 after 28 years in that position.
During and since that time, Pickles, who lives in Marion, has held several elected and appointed positions, including town assessor and building commissioner. He no longer holds those positions. However, Pickles remains the part-time town administrator of Gosnold, in the Elizabeth Islands chain, a position he has held since 2001.
No new dates have been announced as to when Pickles, Bondi-Pickles, Tinkham or their attorneys will be back in court.