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Saugus Selectman Mark Mitchell sued by nonprofit Boston Center for Adult Education

Saugus Selectman Mark Mitchell.
Saugus Selectman Mark Mitchell. (File Photo)

SAUGUS — A Boston nonprofit has sued Saugus Selectman Mark Mitchell, alleging he stole more than $515,000 from the organization by writing checks to himself and to Saugus baseball organizations.

Mitchell, a Saugus resident and manager of the Saugus Wings baseball team, is accused of conversion, civil conspiracy, fraud, and related claims.

Mitchell has acted as controller of the nonprofit Boston Center for Adult Education Inc. since 2011. He was hired by his co-defendant, Susan Brown, who has been executive director since 2009. Both were placed on administrative leave on Sept. 18, 2018.

Neither Mitchell nor his attorney, William Delaney, returned calls seeking comment prior to deadline. An attorney for Boston Center for Adult Education did not return a call seeking comment.

The Boston-based nonprofit provides educational opportunities for adults who foster personal and professional development, enhance a sense of community, and encourage social responsibly.

According to a complaint filed in Suffolk Civil Court by the organization, the Board of Directors discovered “serious misappropriations of funds from its bank account which at all relevant times were controlled by Ms. Brown and Mr. Mitchell.”

This included cashed checks that Mitchell and Brown allegedly wrote to themselves and a third defendant, Karen Kalfian, “who upon information and belief resides with Ms. Brown.” The pair live in Marblehead.

The Center for Adult Education retained Marcum LLP, an accounting firm, to conduct a forensic examination of the organization’s books and records, including its bank accounts, in September 2018.

It was determined that the three defendants together have stolen at least $715,000 from its bank accounts between July 11, 2016 to Sept. 13, 2018, according to the document.

Beginning in 2009, the same year Brown was appointed executive director, payments of at least $67,000 per year were made to Kalfian. Brown allegedly created invoices on behalf of Kalfian, stating she performed various general marketing services for the company.

In an interview with Marcum LLP, Mitchell allegedly said Brown directed him to issue checks to Kalfian on a weekly basis, which he would provide in hand to Brown for her to take home to Kalfian.

Since obtaining access to the organization’s accounting systems and bank records, Marcum LLP has identified multiple instances of checks being issued to Mitchell personally, which are allegedly unsupported by invoices or other documentation.

Checks were also allegedly issued to organizations, which are not affiliated with the Boston Center for Adult Education, but which Mitchell is involved, including a Saugus-based baseball team Mitchell manages and other Saugus-based baseball organizations. The checks, written between July 11, 2016 and Sept. 7, 2018, totaled $515,000.  

On Oct. 5, 2018, Mitchell allegedly admitted to Marcum LLP that he has been misappropriating funds from the organization since 2014, according to the documents. In his answer to the complaint filed Oct. 31, Mitchell denied the allegation.

The complaint calls for a judge to award the organization damages, with interest, expenses, and costs, and attach the real estate or bank accounts held by the defendants in an amount of at least $715,000.

Mitchell, in his answer to the complaint, claimed the organization was acting “in bad faith and with unclean hands,” and that any damages were caused by another party. He also claimed the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter, and reserved his right to pursue relief over the unwarranted charges. He requested the complaint be dismissed and he be awarded his reasonable costs and attorney fees. He also requested a trial by jury.

A trial date has not yet been set, according to a Suffolk Superior Court Clerk.

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