WESTMORELAND — Town officials have reached a civil settlement with former clerk Cindi Adler, who is facing felony charges alleging she embezzled at least $29,000 in property taxes and motor-vehicle fees for her own use.
Adler, who resigned unexpectedly in 2018 after more than three decades as Westmoreland’s clerk and tax collector, was indicted in January on four counts of theft stemming from those accusations. The town filed a civil lawsuit against her last year in Cheshire County Superior Court over the same allegations, seeking to recover $124,000 it claims she owes, including interest and other costs.
A sealed, seven-page settlement was filed in that case Sept. 7, according to court records.
Westmoreland’s town attorney, Silas Little, declined Wednesday to share terms of that agreement, citing its confidentiality. Adler’s attorney in the civil case, James Romeyn Davis, was unavailable for comment, and his office declined a request for more information on the settlement.
Richard Guerriero, a Keene-based attorney representing Adler in the criminal case, said Wednesday proceedings in that case are ongoing.
A settlement conference in the criminal case — which was brought by Sullivan County prosecutors to avoid any conflicts of interest with the Cheshire County Attorney’s Office — has been set for later this month. Guerriero said Wednesday he and prosecutors are negotiating a settlement in that case, too, though he declined to share details on the possible terms of that deal.
“We’ve been working with the authorities, and we are hopeful of resolving the case without a trial,” he said. “… We’re hopeful that will be soon.”
In her response to the civil suit last year, Adler invoked constitutional protections against self-incrimination.
An audit of Westmoreland’s finances after her departure showed thousands of dollars unaccounted for, prompting N.H. State Police to investigate the missing funds, The Sentinel reported in March 2019.
Prosecutors have accused Adler of withholding about $24,000 in vehicle-registration fees in 2012 and about $2,300 in 2013.
They also claim she withheld more than $1,500 in vehicle-registration fees between 2014 and late 2018, and more than $1,500 in property-tax payments due for the year 2016. The charges connected to those allegations don’t specify how much she is accused of taking.
Adler resigned at the end of August 2018, shortly after other town officials had a judge order her to hand over tax books and other documents, according to Westmoreland’s civil lawsuit.
A subsequent audit — required by state law any time a tax collector leaves office — found about $27,500 that Adler hadn't delivered to the town in “fees, double payment on taxes, taxes collected, but applied to another’s account, and releases of tax liens without payment,” the lawsuit stated.
The town then paid $15,000 for a forensic audit of its 2016 finances, which revealed $33,173 in “unlocated taxes,” according to the suit.
Little did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for a copy of the forensic audit. He previously denied a similar request from The Sentinel on the grounds that the audit’s release could interfere in the ongoing criminal case.
Westmoreland had recovered about $60,000 from its insurers, according to court filings last year.
The town does not appear to have done audits for every year that Adler was clerk but states in its lawsuit that, based on comparing cash receipts before and after she left office, officials believe about $41,000 in vehicle fees and property taxes weren't reported each year between 2012 and 2018. Westmoreland officials planned to pursue additional information about those alleged discrepancies as part of their lawsuit.
N.H. State Police got involved in November 2018, after the town informed police of potential “discrepancies and irregularities,” Trooper Aaron D. Gillis wrote in a January 2019 affidavit in support of a search warrant.
In speaking with Gillis at the time, Adler “admitted to falsifying her ledgers, not documenting tax payments and applying certain monies for one tax payment-to another,” he wrote. Adler told Gillis that she'd fallen behind on payments for a loan, according to his affidavit.
In one case cited by Gillis, a town resident paid his property taxes in December 2017 with a check for $2,098, but Adler’s paperwork showed a payment of only $98. Later, he wrote, another taxpayer was charged $5,099 instead of the $3,099 that was owed. Only $3,099 was recorded, and the extra $2,000 was used to cover the first account, according to Gillis’ affidavit and supporting attachments.