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Former treasurer allegedly stole more than $15,000 from historical society

A former selectman is facing a felony charge, accused of stealing money from the Dunbarton Historical Society while he was treasurer of the nonprofit.

Merton Mann Jr., 70, of School Street was indicted by a grand jury in Merrimack County Superior Court last week on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking over a four-year period.

From March 2008 to July 2012, he had been “issuing checks to himself from the Dunbarton Historical Society checking account and depositing those funds in his own personal account,” the indictment states.

In a statement yesterday, Chief Dan Sklut said the indictment comes at the end of a six-month investigation by the Dunbarton police. Mann has not been arrested or taken into police custody, Sklut said.

Sklut could not say how much money Mann is accused of taking, but historical society president Ted Vallieres said the amount is greater than $15,000.

“It decimated the historical society,” said Vallieres, who is also a member of the select board.

Mann had been the organization’s treasurer for about 25 years, Vallieres said. When Vallieres became president of the historical society in October 2011, he began to question Mann’s work with the organization’s account.

“Once I became president, then it was very obvious that nobody was overseeing what was happening with the money,” Vallieres said. “There was no checks or balances or anything like that. (Mann) was the guy that people would give the money to, and he was the guy that would write the checks. And nobody asked for statements or for the register or anything.”

Vallieres said he worked with the bank to collect more information and finally brought his concerns to the police in June of this year. Mann stepped down from the position this summer, he said.

“He resigned as soon as he found out that we knew the money was gone,” Vallieres said.

Chairman Les Hammond said Mann also served on the select board in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he has worked as the town’s treasurer. But certain safeguards that exist in the town’s offices did not protect the historical society when Mann was accused of stealing from its account in 2008.

“It’s up to the association to set their rules, and they were lax in doing that,” Hammond said. “What (Mann) did, he couldn’t do in his position as a selectman and other positions. But the historical society, there was a lot of trust and belief that because of who he was, he would never do that sort of thing. And things got left a little sloppy.”

Mann is also a member of the Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Commission. A phone number listed for Mann is no longer in service.

The county attorney’s office could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mann is due in court Jan. 15 at 8:30 a.m. for his arraignment.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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