Impact Statement of the Lunenburg Board of Selectmen

Your honor, for the record my name is Daniel W. Cronin. I appear before you today as a Member of the Lunenburg Board of Selectmen. I also appear as a graduate of Lunenburg High School and a father of three children enrolled in Lunenburg Public Schools. The Board of Selectmen, on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of the Town of Lunenburg, welcomes the opportunity to offer an Impact Statement in the case of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Richard M. Carlson.

Mr. Carlson, by stealing public funds, has caused a great financial burden on the hard working taxpayers of the Town of Lunenburg. It is important to illustrate the direct impacts caused by Mr. Carlson's theft:

  • Chapter 70 funds are the primary source of education funds received from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During the period from 1997 to 2003, the Town of Lunenburg received a total of $20,958,828. The year-to-year total increase in Chapter 70 funds during this period was $1,283,857. During this same period, Mr. Carlson stole a total of $429,159. That means that Mr. Carlson diverted to his own use, from town funds, an amount equal to 33% of the additional state aid monies. In fact, in 1999 and in 2003, Mr. Carlson stole from the Town more than the total amount of the increase in state aid for those individual years. The total increase in State aid in 1999 was $71,713 and Mr. Carlson stole $94,402. During a tough budget year in 2003, the Town of Lunenburg did not receive any increase in local aid; however, during the first seven months of this fiscal year, Mr. Carlson stole $45,985.

  • Mr. Carlson on January 21, 2003 stood before a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee and expounded a need for our State Senator and State Representative to "understand" how devastating a $150,000 plus cut would be to our school system. It was during this discourse, that Mr. Carlson stated that "I feel its my professional responsibility to our faculty, staff and students, to inform them of what the impact will be to the Town." Adding that, "I will carry on that cause because I feel that strongly about it". The great hypocrisy of Mr. Carlson's assertions is that during the first seven months of fiscal year 2003, Mr. Carlson had stolen $45,985 of Lunenburg taxpayers money and he "understood" the impact that that theft would have on the operation of the schools and the education of our children. Mr. Carlson had the unabashed audacity to hold himself out as the champion of our children and claimed that he would lead the fight for them wherever the Town wanted him to go. The fact is, he had already stolen more than twice as much from the children himself!

  • Similarly, in correspondence dated January 21, 2003, Mr. Carlson outlined a financial plan to address the proposed cuts in FY 03 state aid. This plan proposed staff furloughs, a reduction in the hours of teacher’s aides, tutors and secretarial support staff, fees for participation in spring sports, a delay in ADA compliance projects, reductions in programs and services and reductions in curriculum, maintenance and sports programs. While asking for individual sacrifice of the staff, students and town, Mr. Carlson was picking the Town’s pockets, stealing the very funds that took away from the programs and services he proposed cutting.
  • It is important for everyone to understand the significance of Mr. Carlson's actions. For the record, Mr. Carlson stole $429,159 dollars from the Town of Lunenburg. In 1998, he stole $39,609, in 1999 - $94,402, in 2000 - $62,856, in 2001 - $107,981 in 2002 - $78,329 and during the first seven months of 2003, he stole $45,985. All of these funds were in addition to a salary that was in excess of $100,000. The average equalized per capita salary in Lunenburg is $58,374. Because of Mr. Carlson's dishonesty, hardworking people have lost their jobs, hours of work have been cut and services, programs and supplies have been cut or eliminated. These cuts affected not only the school department but also the other departments within town government. How does one quantify the impact of a person losing their job or having to live on less than was expected for a salary or of a child that is in need of a service or a program that is unavailable because the funds were stolen! Many people were directly hurt by Mr. Carlson's actions. These were not victimless crimes.

  • To add insult to injury, Mr. Carlson had no regard for which account he stole funds from. While $193,097 in funds were stolen from the general school operation budget. Mr. Carlson's second favorite account was the Elementary School After-School Activity Fund. This program, which provided after school care to children of working parents accounted for $139,270 of Mr. Carlson's theft. In addition, Mr. Carlson stole from a Technology Learning Grant ($18,435), a Class Size Reduction Grant ($3,600) and from School Choice Funds ($5,148). All funds intended to benefit the children of Lunenburg.

In closing, Mr. Carlson had a moral responsibility as the Superintendent of Schools to carry out the duties of his position with honesty, trust and character. As the leader of a school district he was obligated to serve as role model to all of the 1883 children that were entrusted to him. Mr. Carlson's actions have clearly violated this sacred trust. As a common and notorious thief, he has brought dishonor to himself, the community and its school system. His actions are reprehensible. It is the opinion of the Lunenburg Board of Selectmen, and the residents of the Town, that the defendant Richard Carlson be punished. On behalf of the children and taxpayers of Lunenburg, who are the victims of the defendant's crimes, we are in agreement with the recommendation of the District Attorney's Office.

Respectfully submitted,