BEVERLY — A disabled Iraq War veteran pleaded guilty Monday to stealing nearly $63,000 from the city of Beverly by making unauthorized electronic transfers out of a seldom-used city account.
It turns out that Ronald Ribeiro was able to pull off the scheme because of a goodwill gesture by the city — a check he was given to help him get settled in his new apartment in a subsidized complex for veterans at 62 Pleasant St. in Beverly.
Police say Ribeiro used the account and routing numbers on the check to make a series of transfers to his own account, as well as to wire funds to himself.
Ribeiro, 34, was sentenced to 18 months in jail, followed by five years of probation, during which he’ll have to pay $62,870 in restitution to Eastern Bank, which reimbursed the city for the thefts after they were discovered.
The sentence, imposed by Salem District Court Judge Michael Lauranzano, was the result of a plea agreement worked out between prosecutor Michael Sheehan and Ribeiro’s attorney, Meredith Reeves.
The thefts, which had been going on for weeks, were discovered in January during a reconciliation of the account.
Working with a fraud investigator for Eastern Bank, Beverly police detective Sgt. David Richardson was able to identify Ribeiro as a suspect, Sheehan told the judge.
Ribeiro arranged for wire transfers via Western Union, which allowed him to pick up cash at a local supermarket and at a liquor store, Sheehan said. Surveillance video from the supermarket helped confirm his identity.
Reeves said Ribeiro served two tours of duty in Iraq, and during the second tour, he suffered a traumatic brain injury. That led to “uncharacteristic behavior” and made him more susceptible to addiction.
Also during Monday’s hearing, Ribeiro pleaded guilty to attempting to pass a forged prescription for Percocet at Walgreens in Beverly on Oct. 18.
As part of his sentence on 19 counts of felony larceny, he will be required to take part in treatment for both drug and gambling addictions, as well as comply with any treatment recommended by the Veterans Administration.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.