Waste District drops civil embezzlement case
As the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Waste Disposal District seeks Town Meeting approval from its member communities to disband, a lawsuit against its former director of 45 years, Ray Pickles, will no longer be an issue to consider, after the district voted to drop the civil case on April 9.
The lawsuit alleged that Pickles’ wife, Diane Bondi-Pickles and Robert Tinkham had a role in embezzling $838,457 of district funds, but the district’s governing committee ended the lawsuit because the legal action would have cost more than it was likely to recover.
Tinkham served as former Carver health agent and was also on the Waste District’s governing committee, where he worked to secure free waste disposal for members at the Covanta SEMASS waste-to-energy plant in Rochester. Bondi-Pickles served as the president of Moss Hollow Management, the largely one man consulting firm that Pickles used for his work with the district.
The district fired Pickles in January 2018 when he asked for more funds for the first time in five years and irregularities emerged in the district’s finances. The group brought the civil embezzlement suit against Pickles in June 2018. A little short of a year later, in March 2019, the state Attorney General’s Office and Inspector General’s Office indicted Pickles and Tinkham.
Stephen M. Cushing, the chairman of the district’s governing committee said his committee reached its decision after the Attorney General’s office dropped its criminal case against Pickles following his death.
"The Committee was advised by its legal counsel that the cost of continued civil litigation against the remaining defendants would cost more than the District would likely be able to recover if the lawsuit was successful,” Cushing said.
Jay McGrail, Marion town administrator, had no comment on the district’s decision as he never knew Pickles and doesn’t know his wife. He started on the job less than a year ago, and though Pickles was Town Clerk at the time, a position he held for 13 years until September 2019, his health was declining, and he reportedly appeared at the Town House infrequently.
“The strategy all along was to let the criminal case play out,” so the civil case suffered a heavy blow when that was dropped, said Marion Selectman John Waterman, who was not on the waste district committee but frequently attended its meetings.