Essex County

Former Saugus selectman pleads guilty to embezzling money from adult education center

BOSTON — A former Saugus selectman pleaded guilty Thursday to a “contemptible” scheme that embezzled over a million dollars from an adult education center.

53-year-old Mark D. Mitchell pleaded guilty to five counts of larceny by scheme, six counts of improper campaign expenditures, three counts of forgery, three counts of false entries in corporate books, and one count of publishing false or exaggerated statements.

From 2011 to 2018, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office says Mitchell embezzled nearly $1.3 million dollars from the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), where he was comptroller.

He also stole money from his campaign funds.

Mitchell wrote $896,537 in checks to himself, $242,749 in checks to various unauthorized third-party organizations, over $80,000 to the Saugus Wings, an AAU baseball team he owned, and over $73,000 to a BCAE instructor whose signature he forged and then deposited those funds into his own account.

“The scope of this scheme is made more contemptible when one considers the organization it victimized — an organization that has provided educational benefits to tens of thousands of adults since it was founded nearly a century ago,” Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said.

Mitchell was sentenced to 18 months in the Suffolk County House of Correction followed by 3 years of probation upon release. Mitchell must also pay restitution, which the total amount will be determined at a November 9 meeting.

Two of Mitchell’s co-defendants, Susan Brown, 70, of Marblehead, and Karen Kalfian, 66, of Marblehead, are scheduled for trial on October 10. Brown, the executive director of BCAE, allegedly authorized and approved over $500,000 in checks to Kalfian, a marketing employee, between 2009 and 2018.

“This calculated theft struck at the heart of the BCAE’s ability to do what it does so well and has done for so long.  Mr. Mitchell’s plea is only the beginning of the reparations that are justified in this shameful breach of fiduciary and civic trust,” Hayden said.

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