SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 19, 2014

Man charged with stealing $63K from city account

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — A Beverly man who police say managed to steal nearly $63,000 from a city of Beverly bank account over a period of several weeks in December and January is being held on $100,000 cash bail.

Ronald Ribeiro, 30, who, until his arrest, was living in a subsidized veterans housing complex at 62 Pleasant St., pleaded not guilty to 19 counts of felony larceny during his arraignment in Salem District Court Friday. He could be facing additional charges as police continue their investigation.

Police say Ribeiro was using his home computer to take money from the city’s “general warrant” account to fund Western Union wire transfers and also move money to his own account.

The transactions were discovered during the city finance department’s monthly reconciliation of accounts. Police have advised the city to look at all city accounts for other suspicious transactions in the wake of the discovery.

It’s unclear how Ribeiro obtained the city’s account information.

There is generally just one “automated clearinghouse,” or ACH, transaction each month from that account, Beverly police Detective David Richardson noted in his report; that is an electronic payment to a Medicare provider. ACH transactions are one type of electronic funds transfer.

But the unusual transactions went unnoticed for weeks, partly due to the change in administration and at Eastern Bank, as well, Richardson noted.

Richardson met with city treasurer Bryant Ayles and assistant treasurer Kathy Killen and learned that $62,970 had been quietly transferred out of the account.

Richardson worked with investigators from Eastern Bank and Western Union to identify Ribeiro as a suspect.

They learned that he had picked up 19 Western Union wire transfers, of $950 each, at two nearby businesses, ChrisPy’s Liquors on Rantoul Street and Stop & Shop on Elliott Street (Route 62).

Mayor Mike Cahill said the city has managed to recover all but $400 of the money.

“It is a priority that we recover 100 percent of the taxpayers’ money and that anyone who steals from the city be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Cahill, who went on to praise the diligence of both the city employees and police department in discovering and solving the crime.

While the investigation was ongoing, police discovered that Ribeiro was wanted on eight warrants in various courts around the state and took him into custody on those warrants last month.

Police are also conducting a forensic evaluation of his computer and cellphones.

Ribeiro, who could face indictment in the case because of the amount of money involved, is due back in court March 7.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis. Staff writer Paul Leighton contributed to this report.