A Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office press release stated that James Atkins, a Chelsea Police sergeant has been indicted and charged with 5 counts of larceny. In 2007 parents and Chelsea High School officials contacted the police to report their concerns about Atkins handling of monies raised for the Chelsea football team during fundraising events. At that time Atkins was also the head football coach, booster president and someone with access to the fundraising bank account. The account was to be used to purchase equipment, uniforms, team events and a pre-season camp. Suspicions about Atkins management of the account were initially voiced in the fall of 2006. Consequently, Atkins surrendered control of the account to a parent however he retained an ATM card for himself. The card was used for several unauthorized purchases including personal travel and entertainment. Atkins’ tenure as coach terminated in 2007. The total amount stolen by Atkins is estimated around $10,000. He has been on administrative leave since August 2007. An arraignment hearing has been set for October 22, 2008.
Addressing the charges, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said:
“The charges against James Atkins are serious and troubling. Atkins abused the public trust in his role as a police officer, he violated the trust of the kids who looked up to him as a mentor and a coach, and the parents who put their faith in him. Were it not for the diligence of parents and school officials, and the hard work of prosecutors and detectives with both the Chelsea Police Department and Massachusetts State Police, he may have been able to continue to pilfer funds for kids to be used for his own entertainment. ” Read Press Release, October 1, 2008. The story was covered by Wickedlocal Medford as well.
So what is Atkins looking at? Larceny in Massachusetts is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30. The part of that statute most pertinent to this case states that “Whoever steals the property of another whether such property is or is not in his possession at the time of such conversion or secreting, shall be guilty of larceny, and if the value of the property stolen exceeds two hundred and fifty dollars, be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years”. There is no need to indict these cases. Jurisdiction lies in the district courts as well. Typically, when a case such as this that has concurrent jurisdiction is prosecuted in the Superior Court the prosecution is seeking an imposition of state prison time. District Courts in Massachusetts have the authority to sentence someone to a house of correction, not state prison. Thus, the prosecution in this case will likely be recommending a state prison sentence for Atkins. This does not necessarily mean that he will actually serve state prison time. A good Massachusetts theft crimes defense lawyer might be able to negotiate some sort of disposition whereby Atkins will not serve any time at all. It is also possible that his case could be continued without a finding if certain compelling circumstances are in play here.
If you have a case like this, or any criminal case in Massachusetts, we encourage you to call our office at once. All of the lawyers in our office have at least 20 years criminal defense experience. Our results are excellent. Call us now to discuss your case. www.neymanlaw.com ; www.kmmdefense.com; www.rjwheelerlaw.com.