Officials Investigate Missing City Funds

Mayor Gary Christenson confirms he was made aware of the on-going investigation by then outgoing mayor Richard C. Howard.

Malden city officials and police have been investigating the apparent theft of thousands of dollars from the city treasurer for at least the past month, the mayor's office confirmed today.

Officials did not reveal the missing amount, but an unidentified source told the Malden Evening News that the sum is in the four- to five-figure range.

Mayor Gary Christenson said he was informed of the probe “a few weeks before the new year” by then out-going mayor Richard Howard, but could not reveal a more specific timetable without jeopardizing the investigation.

“It was more, at that time, an 'FYI' for me,” he said. “That the mayor's office was involved (in the investigation) and that he was...working with the police department on it.”

Christenson said he met with the treasurer's office Friday morning to provide assistance, and was hoping the Malden city council would move quickly to hire a chief fiscal officer to oversee the budget. Christenson said he had called council President Judy Bucci about the issue Friday afternoon.

The board moved to adopt that model of fiscal oversight when former treasurer Frank Vacca resigned two years ago.

“When (Vacca) left, we didn't replace the treasurer because we proposed moving to the new model...to oversee the entire city budget,” Christenson, who served as the city council from Ward 1 at the time, said.

“What prompted us to go to that model was...there was some debate as to who really was responsible for the overall budget, and there were no clear answers. Some thought it was the treasurer, others thought it was the controller, some people thought it was the assessor.

“You really need someone on top,” he said.

Christenson said that the treasurer's office now had cameras installed around the perimeter of the treasurer's office, and that he had made a formal request that no one be admitted into the treasurer's office that doesn't work there.

“I know it's not a perfect world – I'm sure someone's relative might come and visit one day,” he said. “If they do, they're accompanied around the office; not left alone, in other words.”

This is not the first time taxpayer money has been stolen from city hall: in 2008, former treasury employee Gia DeSantis was arrested and later plead guilty to stealing over half a million dollars from the city's coffers.

As many as 125 checks were distributed to eight other non-employees, according to a report in the Boston Globe at the time.

Paul Weston January 08, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Yeah, I was wonder about the relationshiup between the people who went around the city last night smashing car windows, and the thieves up in city hall....So much for the Bruins, however UMass Amherst over Vermont in OT ay Fenway Park!
Bill M January 08, 2012 at 02:47 PM
My concern is this...What other thievery is going on in this city that we do not know of?
Joe Gray January 09, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I tune back in for a minute after the holiday break to see if this sleepy town has "any" news going on and this is what pops out. I keep fooling myself into thinking things will get better. I hope this gets solved quickly. I can just feel our taxes are going to go up somewhere else to make up for this "unspecified" monetary theft.
DannyBoy January 09, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Joe Gray: "Sleepy town" Malden it ain't. LOL... I hope you were being sarcastic there!
Jennifer Smith January 24, 2012 at 08:42 PM
It is OBVIOUS to me that a conflict of interest policy needs to be implemented and a nepotism policy. If there is one already in place I would LOVE to know how it allowed over 500K to go missing. Maybe it is time to hire an outside agency to do an independent investigation. Personally I have looked at the budget for Malden before and it raised MANY red flags.


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