WEBSTER – Dudley District Court issued arrest warrants yesterday for a man and woman who allegedly duped more than 40 people, nine of them elderly, out of thousands of dollars while pretending to collect money for the State Police Association of Massachusetts.

Jason Fontaine, 34, whose last known address is 151 School St., and Cindy Carpenter, 52, last known address of 6 May St., are being sought for arrest, police said.

Authorities said the duo opened accounts at Hometown Bank and Sovereign Bank. Copies of the victims’ checks, which were provided by the banks, showed they were made out to “MSPA,” “Mass. State Police Association” and “Mass. State Police.”

The donors wrote in the memo section that the money was intended for Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs or for a “donation.”

However, the suspects used the proceeds for personal expenditures at stores and gas stations, police said

Victims interviewed by police said the solicitors claimed to be collecting for “the kids” or for DARE or for the association, which would turn the money over to tornado victims, the police report said.

A tornado passed through parts of Southbridge, Sturbridge, Charlton and Brimfield on June 1.

Victims of the scheme live in Douglas, Dudley, Franklin, Leicester, Medway, Norwood, Oxford, Walpole and Webster, police said.

In August, Hometown Bank’s security officer contacted Webster police Sgt. Thomas V. Ralph to inquire about a company that had opened an account under the name MSPA.

Sgt. Ralph contacted the association, the attorney general’s office and the town of Webster, but none of those agencies was familiar with a business in Webster that was affiliated with the police association, police said.

State Trooper Timothy Babbin, vice president of the association, told Sgt. Ralph the association does not solicit money from people.

The bank accounts were frozen and search warrants were applied for and received for records at Hometown and Sovereign banks, police said.

Sovereign Bank held $905 from the phony organization; Hometown Bank held $2,405. More than $734 was in overdraft from Hometown, making the total larceny $4,044, police said.

A letter from Hometown Bank to Ms. Carpenter demanded full payment for the overdraft amount, but the letter was not signed for and was returned to the bank, police said.

There were many ATM or electronic debit transactions at stores in Webster, Chelmsford, Worcester and Webster, and gas stations in Boxboro and Worcester, police said.

There was an electronic debit from the account for GEICO; a letter from the car insurance company, addressed to Mr. Fontaine, was found at 6 May St. during the warrant search, police said.

Police also seized a donation receipt from MSPA and four previously opened envelopes with the association’s name on them.

On Aug. 16, Mr. Fontaine had obtained a business certificate from the town clerk’s office for MSPA. Ms. Carpenter was later added to the certificate, police said.

Mr. Fontaine’s last known address is a boarding or rooming house, police said.

Mr. Fontaine and Ms. Carpenter will each be charged with 34 counts of larceny under $250, nine counts of larceny under $250 from victims over the age of 60, and a count each of larceny over $250 by single scheme, larceny over $250, conspiracy, obtaining goods by false pretenses, forgery, uttering a false document, using an association name without authority and falsely using an association’s name.

 

Brian Lee

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

November 16, 2011