Former BCAE Officials Facing Charges for Diverting Funds

As part of her Office’s ongoing efforts to ensure the public’s confidence in public institutions, DA Rachael Rollins announced this week charges against multiple employees of the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) nonprofit organization, located in Bay Village.

“I am committed to holding individuals accountable who abuse their power and betray the public’s trust,” DA Rollins said. “Their selfish and criminal actions depleted resources that were intended for the improvement of our communities, but more critically depleted the public’s confidence in our institutions. The charges brought against each of these defendants reflect my Office’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of our public agencies and nonprofit organizations.”

Two former executives of the BCAE were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday for alleged thefts from the nonprofit learning center. On July 12, a Suffolk County grand jury returned a total of 25 indictments alleging various offenses against BCAE’s former comptroller Mark Mitchell and former executive director Susan B. Brown.  The grand jury also indicted Brown’s partner, Karen Kalfian, for her role in the thefts. 

Mitchell, 49, of Saugus, is charged with: Making false entries in corporate books; Publishing of false or exaggerated statements; Common law forgery; Common law uttering; Three counts of forgery; Three counts of uttering, and Four counts of larceny by scheme. Mitchell serves as a Selectman for the Town of Saugus and has been charged in connection with the misuse of campaign funds as well.

Brown, 66, of Marblehead, is charged with: Making false entries in corporate books; Publishing of false or exaggerated statements; Common law forgery; Common law uttering; Forgery; Uttering; and Larceny by scheme.

Kalfian, 62, of Marblehead, faces a single charge of: Receiving stolen property by scheme.

All three were released on personal recognizance after their arraignment. The will return to court on Sept. 27.

Brown, who served as the nonprofit’s Executive Director from 2009 until September, 2018, allegedly authorized a series of checks to Kalfian totaling $565,586 between 2011 and last year.  Those checks were purportedly payments for marketing services. Kalfian briefly worked for the nonprofit in 2005 but did not perform any marketing services for the organization in the years since, prosecutors allege.

Mitchell joined the organization as comptroller in 2011, and his alleged thefts from the nonprofit began that same year.  Between September 2011 and September 2018, the defendant allegedly issued unauthorized checks to himself and to a BCAE instructor, whose signature the defendant forged in order to deposit the checks into his own account.  He allegedly embezzled upwards of $970,000 through this scheme. 

The defendant is also accused of making payments from the nonprofit to an elite youth baseball league he owned and operated. In addition, Mitchell allegedly used his employer’s account to make unauthorized payments for personal expenses and those of the youth team. These expenses totaled $242,749 and included the cost of the defendant’s participation in golf tournaments and sending youth baseball players to out-of-state baseball camps.

In their attempts to cover up the thefts, Mitchell and Brown allegedly falsified the nonprofit’s records. The defendants are also accused of producing false reports to be filed with the IRS in an effort to renew the nonprofit’s tax exempt status that they had allowed to lapse. They subsequently presented the organization’s Board of Directors with a forged letter purportedly from the IRS stating that the nonprofit’s status had been reinstated, prosecutors said. 

The Board of Directors launched an investigation and hired a forensic accounting firm to review the organization’s finances in 2018.

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