NEWPORT CITY – The Albany Fire Department’s former treasurer, Jennifer Tollman, entered a plea of guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of embezzling money from the department.
Tollman had agreed to a plea deal for a three-year deferred sentence. However, because of the severity of the charges, Judge Robert Bent decided to consider the agreement and make a decision in three weeks. For now, Tollman is free on conditions.
Sgt. Darren Annis of the state police said that Tollman admitted to the offense and said that her husband had lost his job and they needed the money to continue making the house payments and regular debt payments.
Albany Fire Chief Donald Peters became suspicious something was amiss when Tollman was unable to provide any of the reports he requested in regards to the department’s finances. Peters checked the recent bank statements and found that approximately $6,100 was missing. Later Peters told police that he did not know where about $2,200 in dues and $1,000 from bottle return money was located.
When confronted, by Peters, Tollman said she needed the money or she would lose her house. Peters said Tollman was apologetic and wanted to find a way to repay the money.
An audit done in mid-April revealed that Tollman illegally withdrew $6,018.14. The report recommended that Tollman resign from all public offices and write a public apology to the town that would appear in the newspaper and town report. The audit also recommended that money, when returned by Tollman, be use for truck repairs and replacement.
Tollman told police that she agreed with the audit report and did not embezzle anything beyond what the report showed. Tollman said she had paid back all of the money plus an additional $300 to cover the time of the auditors.