Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman
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Christopher Aring demonstrates his augmented reality sand table at the state science fair competition.

Christopher Aring, a junior at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), this week represented Southeastern Massachusetts at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 10 to 15. Almost 2,000 students from around the world presented their research over the course of the fair.

Chris qualified to compete in the international event after he claimed the top spot at the South Shore Regional Science Fair on March 14, the first Island student to do so.

His winning project was an augmented-reality sand table. The project allows users to manipulate sand to represent different topographical formations and to study how they are affected by changes, such as erosion and water, for example. A corresponding computer-engineering program projects the images and changes back onto the table in real time.

Chris and fellow students Nils Aldeborgh, Harrison Dorr, and Jared Koster recently competed in the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair held at MIT in Cambridge, May 1 and 2. The MVRHS students competed with more than 300 students from across the state.

Chris received received second place for his augmented-reality sand table. In addition, he received the Harvard Press Book Award, a Science and Technology Award with an honorarium of $100, and the Frederick P. Fish Patent Award. Chris was recognized by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs with a Secretary’s Award for Excellence, presented at a formal award ceremony at the Massachusetts State House.

Chris is the son of MVRHS English department chairman Dan Sharkovitz and Cynthia Aring of Ohio.

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Adam Turner will replace Mark London, who will retire in August.

Adam Turner of New Saybrook, Conn., shown during his interview on April 8, is the next executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Commission.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) last Thursday signed off on a contract for Adam Turner of New Saybrook, Conn., picked to be the regional planning and permitting agency’s next executive director.

The two-year contract is effective August 1, 2015. Mr. Turner will earn a salary of $107,454 per year with benefits.

Mr. Turner will replace Mark London, executive director since 2002, who will retire on August 1. Mr. London earns $128,224 annually. Mr. Turner’s professional career spans 30 years, and includes extensive coastal management work in island environments that include the Florida Keys and Northern Marianas.

Contract benefits include 15 days of paid vacation leave during each 12-month period from July 1 through June 30, plus an additional day of paid vacation leave per year for each additional full year of service up to a maximum of 25 days of vacation leave per year; 15 days of paid sick leave during each 12-month period, with the option to accrue 60 days of sick leave; and 11 paid holidays.

The MVC will pay Mr. Turner $10,000 “to help defray the expense incurred by the executive director in relocating to Martha’s Vineyard.”

Mr. Turner will also receive $50 monthly for cellphone telephone expenses.

He will be eligible to enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts group health insurance plan and a Delta Dental group dental insurance plan, under which the commission pays 75 percent of the premium and the employee pays 25 percent.

Mr. Turner would be entitled to 13 weeks of base pay should the MVC terminate his contract other than for cause, which includes illegal or unprofessional activity.

For the past seven years, Mr. Turner has been town planner for Colchester, where much of his focus has been on land-use regulation.

His contract stipulates that he not engage in any other business activity during the term of the agreement, with the exception that he may complete a project he is currently engaged in, which is the removal of the Norton dam and restoration of the Salmon River in Colchester, Conn. That project is expected to conclude no later than Oct. 31, 2015. He has agreed to work on the project on his personal time.

The new executive director will preside over an agency with an operating budget of $1.5 million. Salaries and employee benefits, which include the cost of funding retirement benefits, lay claim to the largest share, $1.1 million of the MVC budget. The commission has 10 staff members. The bulk of the MVC’s income comes from Dukes County taxpayers, through town assessments based on property tax valuation. All seven towns in Dukes County, which includes Gosnold, share the cost of planning, according to their relative property valuation.

 

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The town sought a legal opinion when its former accountant objected to use of the lighthouse gift fund.

The Gay Head Lighthouse is the focus of a complex move.

A labor lawyer for the town of Aquinnah said the board of selectmen acted within its authority when it voted to pay former town treasurer Peter Graczykowski from a separate town lighthouse fund for extra hours auditing and compiling reports associated with the Gay Head Lighthouse relocation project. Former Aquinnah town accountant Kimberly Brown, who resigned in April, objected to the decision to pay the treasurer from the fund.

Jim Newman, chairman of the board of selectman, and Adam Wilson, town administrator, said the payments to Mr. Graczykowski were properly made for extra work he took on in addition to his regular duties, a position underpinned by a legal opinion the town sought from special town labor counsel John (Jack) Collins in response to the questions raised by Ms. Brown.

Ms. Brown resigned on April 10, Mr. Wilson said, because she was unable to meet the requirement that she be in the office weekly rather than bi-weekly, as she had requested.

The issue arose last summer as fundraising efforts hit high gear and the town made plans to take ownership of the lighthouse. The goal was $3 million, and there was a need for accounting services associated with the complex project.

In a seven-page memo dated March 21, 2015, Mr. Collins wrote, “There was consensus by the fundraising chairwoman and the board of selectmen chairman Jim Newman that the treasurer would be the best person to handle this requested task. He already had access to the turnovers and payables to vendors associated with the project, and the required analysis and reporting was felt to be within the scope of his job duties as treasurer. As far as the additional pay was concerned, it was designated to be able to come from the gift fund since the work was part of the relocation effort.”

On August 5, 2014, selectmen voted to have Mr. Graczykowski work an additional 10 hours per week. The town ledger shows Mr. Graczykowski was paid an additional $674 every two weeks from a $25,000 town lighthouse fund approved at town meeting to pay for fundraising efforts.

Meeting on Nov. 18, 2014, selectmen, acting on the recommendation of the personnel committee, changed Mr. Graczykowski’s title and job description from treasurer/benefits administrator to treasurer/human resources director. The change came with an additional five hours and an increase in pay. Selectmen acknowledged that the change was temporary and would need to be approved by voters at town meeting. The additional payments increased from $674 to $706. Mr. Newman and Mr. Wilson said the second hike did not come out of the lighthouse fund.

All of which was legal and within the scope of the authority of town selectmen, Mr. Collins said in his report.

Mr. Collins said “several months” after selectmen approved the additional 10 hours, “the question of the payroll came up with the accountant.”

Mr. Collins said he consulted with Aquinnah town counsel Michael Goldsmith, and both men agreed the payments from the gift fund were allowed. He said he relayed that information to the accountant, and thought the matter was settled, but later learned it was not.

Mr. Collins used six pages to address all of the accountant’s objections related to payroll, ethics, personnel bylaws, and procedures. Mr. Collins concluded that the town had acted appropriately.

“It appears that the primary reason for most if not all of these objection lies in the payment to one town employee without letting others know, and possibly be considered for the extra money,” he concluded.

“… Certainly had monies been spent on matters unrelated to the lighthouse project, this would be a different story. The relatively modest amount involved to provide good financial oversight seems in keeping with the intent and purposes of the voters.”

 

Needs not met

“There was nothing hidden, it was all above board and approved by the lighthouse committee,” Mr. Newman said. “They needed somebody to do their accounting with all the money that was coming in and going out.”

Mr. Newman said there not time for him to do it on town time, and there was no money budgeted for it.

Mr. Newman disputes the notion that the town forced Ms. Brown out when she objected to the payments. He said it was the expectation from the beginning that she would be in the office once a week.

Mr. Wilson said Ms. Brown had her concerns, and that was why the town sought a legal opinion, and she was given an opportunity to address each one. “She resigned because she could not accommodate the selectmen’s needs to have her here once a week,” Mr. Wilson said.

Not everyone was on board with the decision to pay Mr. Graczykowski out of the gift fund. In an email dated March 10, Ms. Brown told members of the fundraising committee and selectmen that that the town’s $25,000 fundraising account had a deficit of $3,229.

“The expenditures in this account include $6,103 in payroll to Peter/Treasurer,” Ms. Brown wrote. “It is my view that no payroll should be charged to this account. Please consider reclassification of these expenses. This would bring you to a positive balance. It is my view that when town meeting voted to use town funds for this article, they did not envision that it would be used for town employee payroll.

“I also believe that it is imperative you clarify the legality of a town employee receiving additional payroll from gift funds in addition to their regular town pay. At a minimum, there may be ethical steps that need to be taken in order for the situation to be acceptable.”

Beverly Wright, co-chairman of the fundraising committee and a former selectman, responded to Ms. Brown by email that same day.

“My recollection is that when we [Lighthouse Committee] realized that a more in-depth accounting of the funds needed to take place, we spoke with the selectmen,” Ms. Wright said, “in particular, Jim [Newman]. It was decided that Peter could use the extra hours, and that the town would pick up the cost.

“It was never discussed that the funds would come from any fundraising efforts. Personally, I would be opposed to the use of these funds to pay a town employee.”

Ms. Brown, who now works full time for the town of Walpole, stopped work on April 10. That same week, Mr. Graczykowski resigned to take a full-time job with the Dukes County Sheriff’s department as director of finance.

Mr. Graczykowski continues to work for Aquinnah on a part time basis while the personnel committee searches for his replacement.

 

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A detailed department evaluation presented to selectmen highlights the strengths of a proposed homegrown leadership team.

Acting Edgartown Police Chief and law enforcement consultant Jack Collins recommended selectmen appoint Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby, left, lieutenant and Officer Dave Rossi police chief.

Acting Edgartown Police Chief John M. (Jack) Collins, a labor lawyer and law enforcement specialist, hired to serve in the interim period following the retirement of Chief Tony Bettencourt and provide a department evaluation, recommended to selectmen Monday that they name Dave Rossi, a 25-year veteran of the department, the new police chief.

Mr. Collins also recommended a “two-person approach” to the department’s leadership, and the appointment of Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby to the position of lieutenant, second in command.

“Between them, they have what it takes to provide the leadership the department needs, and they can feed off of each other’s strengths,” Mr. Collins said in a detailed 89-page report, titled, “A Blueprint for Excellence: An Evaluation of and Vision for the Edgartown Police Department.”

Mr. Collins said Mr. Rossi and Mr. Dolby would make the department one in which “competence, integrity, initiative, good work, and dedication are acknowledged.”

He said, “I have become convinced that these two make a terrific team and together posses the strengths, dedication, vision and capabilities needed to lead the Edgartown Police Department in the coming years.”

Selectmen are expected to act on the recommendations when they meet Monday.

As part of the selection process, Mr. Collins asked members of the department to name the traits that qualified both men for leadership posts.

His fellow officers described Mr. Rossi, who holds a master’s in criminal justice, as someone deeply involved in the community with a “fair and objective attitude,” who is “very reliable.” One officer said, “Someone I can respect and follow, even if I do not agree with everything he says.”

Chris Dolby, 42, was described as “the department’s most energetic and productive member, a terrific detective and supervisor, ‘a cop’s cop,’ and ‘someone we can all trust and talk to.’ One officer said, ‘Should be chief now but probably wants to wait a few years.’”

Flattered and privileged

On Tuesday, both men expressed appreciation for the strong show of support and confidence in their leadership abilities and the report’s overall positive assessment of the Edgartown Police Department.

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Officer Rossi said Mr. Collins’ comments in support of his appointment were very flattering and very positive. “I am honored that I was recommended,” Mr. Rossi said, “and that he had the faith in me, and that my colleagues, the people I work with, gave the same endorsement. That’s a great way to start off.”

Mr. Rossi, a resident of Edgartown, began his police career in Tisbury. The 55-year-old has been an Edgartown police officer for the past 25 years. If Mr. Rossi is appointed, he would be the second member of his family to head an Island police department. His brother Dan Rossi is West Tisbury Police Chief.

As he has risen through the ranks, Detective Sergeant Chris Dolby has earned a reputation as a dogged officer on the front lines of police work in his hometown. Mr. Dolby comes from a family with a tradition of public and community service. His mother, Pam Dolby, is Edgartown town administrator. His grandfather, Fred “Ted” Morgan, was a highly respected selectman for 30 years and the driving force behind the affordable housing rental complex that bears his name, Morgan Woods.

Mr. Dolby told The Times he was flattered by the comments in the report. “I plan on working hard to maintain that level of commitment to the police department and town of Edgartown,” Mr. Dolby said. “If they [the selectmen] go with those recommendations, I very much look forward to the opportunity, and I continue to think that it is a privilege to be a police officer in the town of Edgartown.”

Not Ferguson

Mr. Collins’ report describes a department that now employs 18 full-time officers and has an operating budget of just over $2.9 million. Mr. Collins said he met with each member of the department, often riding along on patrol. His review, he said, comes “at a crucial time for policing across this country.”

Mr. Collins noted the national conversation over the use of police force, particularly with respect to race, and the recent investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the Ferguson, Mo., police force that led to a series of recommendations by the DOJ and a task force President Obama convened on best practices for policing in the 21st century.

Mr. Collins said that while “the Edgartown Police department is no Ferguson,” the task force report and the DOJ report can serve as “a measuring stick against which all police departments can gauge themselves in any number of areas.”

The Collins report highlights those points, and those areas where the department excels and those areas where it could use some improvement and additional training. It also includes specific recommendations, many of which are related to training and field supervision. In particular, the report calls for more leadership training at the sergeant level.

Mr. Collins said the department needs three new sergeants as soon as the training can be completed. He also recommends officers be assigned to various specialty positions that include elder affairs, crime prevention, liquor enforcement, and domestic violence/sexual assault.

We can do better

Mr. Rossi said the report prepared by Mr. Collins provided a comprehensive assessment of the department. “We scored well, we got a good grade,” Mr. Rossi said. “It gives me the confidence that what we’ve been doing and what we will continue to do is good on a nationwide basis. We treat people good, we treat people with respect — that’s an important issue — and we do a lot of community outreach with our community, we know our community and engage with them on a regular basis.”

Mr. Rossi said the report cited good work from the detectives and the department as a whole when measured against national standards.

“I’m happy with the report,” he said. “He went through the Edgartown police and the things that we do, and we’re not broken, we don’t need to be fixed, but we can do better, and there are some things we will try to do better.”

As an example he cited accreditation procedures and updating departmental policies and procedures.

Selectman Art Smadbeck told The Times Mr. Collins prepared an excellent and comprehensive report. Mr. Smadbeck said he has known Mr. Rossi for 25 years, and described him as a natural leader who inspires confidence.

“I think all of the recommendations that Mr. Collins has made are worthy of consideration and possible implementation,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “I look forward to working with the new chief to be helpful in any way and implement any of the recommendations that he thinks are priorities.”

Mr. Smadbeck said he is proud of the Edgartown Police department, “and all of the men and women who are members and participated in this process, and helped bring it to such a successful conclusion.”

 

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Incumbent Jim Newman faces a challenge from Barbara Bassett.

Aquinnah voters went to the polls Wednesday. File photo by Michael Cummo

On Wednesday, May 13, Aquinnah voters will go to the polls to decide a race for one seat on the three-member board of selectmen between incumbent Jim Newman, who seeks a fourth term, and Barbara Bassett, making her first bid for the town leadership position.

The election comes against a backdrop of continued negotiations with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) over unresolved issues in the public safety agreement under which the town provides police, fire, and ambulance services on tribal lands, and the tribe’s plan to create a boutique casino in its long-dormant and unfinished community center and the state’s lawsuit filed to block those plans.

In a 33-page decision dated Feb. 27, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV said that the tribe remains bound by the terms of the settlement agreement, and knowingly waived its sovereign immunity with respect to tribal lands. It was the latest ruling in a legal argument over whether Massachusetts can limit the tribe’s ability to build a casino, either in southeastern Massachusetts or on tribal lands on Martha’s Vineyard.

Barbara Bassett has called Aquinnah home since the early ’50s when her family first bought land and built a house in town. Her daughters were born and raised in town. Ms. Bassett has been the bookkeeper for Poole’s Fish, the Chilmark Store, the Menemsha and Beach Plum Inns, and was responsible for payroll and taxes for the Homeport restaurant and the Aquinnah Shop. She served on the finance committee for several years, and was one of three assistant chiefs of the Gay Head Fire Department.

Jim Newman was a longtime summer visitor before he and his wife Kathy moved from New Jersey to become full-time residents of the Island. A retired teacher and reading specialist, he served on the finance committee before running for selectman 12 years ago. He has been tutoring tribal children for the past 10 years. He is seeking re-election to a fourth term.

The Times posed a series of questions to each candidate, and asked that they respond in writing in not more than 400 words. The questions and their responses follow.

 

Why did you decide to run for [re-] election to the board of selectmen?

Ms. Bassett: I’m running because I’m disturbed by the disconnect between town government and the people it serves, and the trend toward development and expansion. I would like to see a return to a simpler vision of our quiet, rural town. I think that Juli, Spencer, and I would make a great team.

Mr. Newman: I decided to run once more for the board of selectmen because I wanted to complete what I had set out to do when I first ran. I wanted to bring our town into the 21st century of organization and fiscal responsibility. I also wanted to see through to completion the moving of our Gay Head Lighthouse.

 

Please describe the working relationship between the town and the Wampanoag tribe.

Ms. Bassett: While the tribe is an independent entity with its own government, it is part of our town. I was very pleased when Tobias Vanderhoop was elected chairman. I know that he understands and loves Aquinnah, and I’m confident that we can work together toward common goals.

Mr. Newman: For the past 12 years, I have worked diligently to establish a productive working relationship with the tribe, in order to establish trust and understanding. The tribe is an integral part of this community, and is part of the essence of Aquinnah. It is incumbent upon the board and future boards of selectmen to work closely with the tribe.

 

What town issues are important to you?

Ms. Bassett: There has been a sharp rise in taxes. We are contemplating some very expensive capital expenditures, and are embroiled in a lawsuit over the Menemsha lease lots, and some of the budgets are out of proportion to the size and scope of our simple town. Aquinnah is a small town, with many residents living on a fixed or limited income, and it’s important to keep it affordable and to live within our means.

That being said, I have always supported socially beneficial programs and will continue to do so. We have problems that need our attention and resources. We have a large aging population, and the slow response time during medical emergencies has been a concern. There are buildings and roads in need of repair.

Within the past month, we have lost our accountant, accountant’s assistant, and treasurer. There has been conflict at the town hall. I have held managerial positions and have experience training staff and resolving conflicts. Leadership and guidance are needed. In the recent past, several qualified locals have been passed over for town positions. Having familiar, friendly people representing our town is important.

Sadly, with the death of many of our elders and friends, some of the old ways are in danger of being lost. This was a tightly knit community that always looked out for one another. If elected, I would encourage input from everyone and would try to be fair, thoughtful, humane, and measured in my decisions. I think that with some common sense, kindness and humor, we can rekindle some of the goodwill and community-mindedness that has made it such a special place.

Mr. Newman: Perhaps the most pressing issue is taxable land and the need to raise revenue. Obviously, the other pressing issue is the establishment of a casino in Aquinnah. I believe the majority of year-round residents are opposed to it, and we need to continue our fight in court.

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School costs fuel a six-percent hike and an override question.

Photographer Drew Kinsman caught this image of the Gay Head Light using a drone.

The sixth and final round in Martha’s Vineyard’s annual town meeting season plays out Tuesday, when voters are scheduled to gather in Aquinnah Old Town Hall to take action on a $4,115,596 operating budget for the 2016 fiscal year (FY), and 28 articles spread out over special and annual town meeting warrants.

The special is scheduled to begin at 6:45 pm, followed by the annual. That schedule is far from certain for residents of the Island’s smallest and westernmost town, where annual town meeting is a social event that marks the unofficial end to year-rounders’ off-season hibernation and a chance to catch up on the news with winter-season escapees.

On Wednesday, May 13, voters go to the polls between noon and 7 pm to elect town officers and answer four ballot questions.

Selectman James Newman, seeking a fifth term, faces a challenge from Barbara Bassett for a three-year term on the board of selectmen.

Voters will be asked to approve a Proposition 2.5 override of $120,000 to fund a portion of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) assessment.

Voters will be asked to chip in on the county-engineered purchase of the VNA building to house the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living and its Supportive Day Program.

The center currently uses borrowed space at the Edgartown and Tisbury Council on Aging buildings, and has been searching unsuccessfully for a new home. The county is asking for $1.6 million to purchase, renovate, and equip the building.

Voters will also be asked to help pay the costs of constructing a new school administration building on the grounds of the regional high school. The measure needed approval by all six Island towns, and is moot, following no votes by West Tisbury, Chilmark and Tisbury voters.

Voters will also be asked to approve an override for the cost of purchasing two lots at the Aquinnah Circle as part of the lighthouse relocation project.

The town purchased the Manning-Murray property for $583,298.

 

School is up

School costs fuel the six percent increase in spending forecast in the budget that selectmen, who also double as finance committee members, will present to voters Tuesday. Total education costs will rise by $121,436, from $1,129,902 to $1,251,338, a 10.75 percent hike.

Elementary school costs will rise slightly, from $921,516 to $924,018

in FY16. The big hike is in the high school assessment, which will jump from $208,385 to $327,320, 57 percent increase.

In contrast, several department budgets show reductions over the previous year, or more modest increases. Aquinnah town administrator Adam Wilson said department heads were asked to hold the line and seek reductions where they could in town spending.

Total government, which includes the offices of the selectmen, accountant, treasurer and clerk, will drop from $703,345 to $674,680, a 4.08 percent reduction.

Culture and recreation, which includes the library and recreational programs, will increase from $226,658 to $232,613, a 2.63 percent hike.

Public safety, which includes, police, fire and Tri-Town Ambulance service, will rise from $877,029 to $974,387, a 11.1 percent increase. The largest portion of that increase is attributable to the Tri-Town Ambulance service, the cost of which will go from $196,419 to $251,920, a 28.26 percent rise tied to the addition of a full-time paramedic.

 

Money requests

When it comes time to tackle the warrant, Aquinnah voters will be asked to approve money requests for police vehicles and equipment, clean up the language in town personnel policies, and contribute to several regional efforts.

The Aquinnah police will ask voters to spend $4,900 to equip a new

Polaris Ranger 4×4 Utility Vehicle purchased with a $13,662 grant provided by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

Police will also seek $36,500 to purchase and equip a new police cruiser.

Regional requests will include $7,627 for an upgrade to the 911 Dukes County Communications Center computer system; $7,280 for county services for the elderly; $2,583 for continuing education; $11,570 for the Center for Living; and $2,593 for an information and referral service, First Stop, for the elderly.

Community Preservation Committee requests include $60,000 for the restoration and relocation of the Gay Head Light project; $24,720 for mortgage costs to buy a lot on State Road to create affordable housing; and $12,000 for the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority rent-subsidy program.

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Lillian M. (Gonsalves) Garvin, 90, of Oak Bluffs died on Friday, May 1, 2015 at her daughter’s home.

Lillian Garvin
Lillian M, Garvin

She was predeceased by her husband, Ernest G. Garvin in February of 1991. She is survived by her children, Marcia Buckley, Yvonne Michelson, Linda Scott, Stephen and Ernest Garvin and by her siblings, Frank, Dennis and Jerome Gonsalves, Sybil Moreis, Audrey Moreis and Sandra Porrata.

A graveside service will be held on Monday, May 4 at 2pm in the Oak Grove Cemetery, Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs officiated by Pastor Judy Moss. Donations in her memory may be made to the House of Worship, PO Box 907, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Rd., Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.

 

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Certified public accountant Roger Armstrong paid what he owed and avoided jail time for underreporting income.

The office of Roger Armstrong on Beach Road was closed Friday afternoon.

Updated 11:30 am, Monday

Roger Armstrong, a certified public accountant (CPA) and tax preparer with an office on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, found guilty of tax fraud, must spend the next nine months at home but is allowed to work in his office. The alternative was jail.

In January 2015, Mr. Armstrong pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to three counts of filing false tax returns in which he underreported more than $800,000 in income for three years.

On Tuesday, April 28, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Mr. Armstrong to three years of probation, the first nine months of which are to be served in home confinement, and ordered him to pay a fine of $3,000, according to a press release from the office of United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Armstrong paid restitution of $389,365, which included his taxes owed, as well as interest and penalties.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Mr. Armstrong owned rental property in Massachusetts and Florida. “As a sole proprietor, Mr. Armstrong was required to accurately report his gross receipts and his business profit or loss on his individual income tax returns and also was to report any rental income he received. For tax years 2009 through 2011, Mr. Armstrong filed tax returns in which he significantly underreported both his business gross receipts and his rental income. Specifically, he did not report a total of $790,000 in gross receipts and $47,000 in rental income, and, as a result of the underreporting, did not pay $200,000 in taxes.”

Mr. Armstrong has handled tax preparation and accounting for clients on Martha’s Vineyard for more than 20 years, according to his business profile on the social media business site LinkedIn.

“I regret this and I want to move on,” Mr. Armstrong told The Times in a telephone conversation Monday. Mr. Armstrong said his office remains open and he is allowed to go to work every day under the terms of his home confinement.

Following his guilty plea in January, Mr. Armstrong was released on personal recognizance, after he posted an unsecured $10,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport, to refrain from possessing firearms, and to refrain from any use of alcohol.

The maximum sentence Mr. Armstrong faced was three years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each offense.

According to the January plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed to recommend to the judge that Mr. Armstrong make restitution to the IRS in the amount of $389,365, which included interest and penalties. They also recommend a jail sentence on the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. attorney agreed not to seek additional criminal charges for crimes underlying the tax fraud charges.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and William P. Offord, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement Thursday. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

 

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The woman lived in the house for one week and sold or gave away items that police are now attempting to recover.

Edgartown Police posted photos of some of the missing items and sought the public's help.

Updated 11 am, Tuesday, April 30

Edgartown Police said Michelle Filkins of Wareham broke into a seasonal residence on Court Street off Road to the Plains near the Edgartown Highway Department facility, and lived there with her cat for about one week, even hosting an impromptu free yard sale at which she gave away items.

Less than one week after police arrested Ms. Filkins, in a post to the department’s Facebook page police announced that “most of the missing items from the Court Street residence have been recovered.”

“The items had been placed on the side of the road and given away by the suspect,” Police said. “One gentleman asked the suspect if she was selling the items and she told him he could take them for free. So, as it stands now, the homeowners are still out some pots & pans, linens, and lamps. The most significant items have been accounted for.”

A caretaker on his regular rounds discovered Ms. Filkins in the house on Friday morning, April 17. “He asked her who she was and she said she was the owner of the house,” Officer Michael Gazaille told The Times.

The 44-year-old woman was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday, April 17, on charges that included breaking and entering, larceny over $250, and malicious destruction of property over $250.

Ms. Filkins was held without bail and transferred to Falmouth District Court for a competency evaluation. She is currently being held in state custody. A pre-trail hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Ms. Filkins court appointed lawyer, Robert Moriarty, said she is undergoing examination to evaluate her competency to stand trial and her criminal responsibility. Mr. Moriarty said there are serious concerns about her mental condition.

Officer Gazaille said that as far as police could tell, there was no apparent connection between the woman and the Vineyard, or that particular house. “There was no rhyme or reason to why she broke in there,” he said.

Police encountered Ms. Filkins earlier this month when she created a disturbance at the Kelley House. Police suspect she broke into the house not long after that, and had been living in the house for about a week or so. “A contractor working nearby had seen her during the week pretty much living there like she owned the place,” Officer Gazaille said.

Following the discovery that Ms. Filkins was in the house, the caretaker called police. Ms. Filkins fled in her truck, but later returned. She was apprehended a short time later. At the time of her arrest, and in the jail, Ms. Filkins insisted it was her house. Police found cat food and a litterbox in the house.

Mr. Gazaille said there is no indication that Ms. Filkins sold items from the house. “She was just putting stuff by the side of the road,” he said.

Soon after the arrest, police posted a description of the incident on the Edgartown Police Department (EPD) Facebook page, in an effort to recover items discovered missing from the house.

“A worker in the neighborhood reported that one day it appeared she had a yard sale and sold a number of items from the property,” police said on the Facebook post. “If anyone received property from this address, we are asking that you please return it to EPD. We’re not sure at this point if the female was selling or just giving things away. If in fact you did purchase something, you are a victim as well, and EPD will assist you in seeking restitution via the court prosecution of this case.”

Police listed the following items: four deck chairs from Crate & Barrel, one Weber grill, two side tables from Ethan Allen, one Ann Chase lamp, two lamps from Crate and Barrel, two framed posters, various pot and pans, all linens, and a painting by the homeowner.

Word circulated quickly through the Vineyard community. Earlier this week, police recovered the painting. Police thanked the community for its assistance.

 

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Voters went to the polls at the Chilmark Community Center Wednesday.

Chilmark voters went to the polls Wednesday and put another nail in the coffin for the proposed new school administration building. Voters looked more kindly on a new building for the Center for Living.

Both items appeared as Proposition 2.5 override questions on the town ballot.

The vote was 106 to 35 in favor of the town contributing to a county purchase of the former VNA building In Tisbury for use by the Center for Living at an estimated total cost of $1.6 million.

Voters were less willing to pitch in to build a new school administration building at an estimated cost of $3.9 million on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. The vote was 69 in favor and 76 against.

All six towns needed to vote in favor of the proposal. West Tisbury and Tisbury have already said no.

A total of 145 people, or about 16 per cent of the town’s 913 registered voters exercised their right to cast a ballot.

There were no contested elections. Election results were as follows: selectman, William Rossi (110 votes); board of assessors, Leonard Jason Jr., (126); board of health, Janet Buhrman (119); three members of the finance committee for three-year terms, Bruce E. Golden (121), Vicki Jamieson Divoll (96), Adam DeBettencourt (16 write-in votes);  finance committee one year term, Susan B. Murphy (123); planning board five-year term, John K. Eisner (108); planning board one-year term, Samuel A. Hart (122); fence viewer, Julianna M. Flanders (128); library trustee three-year term, Jane D. Kaplan (123); library trustee, one-year term, Heather S. Quinn (116); cemetery commissioner, John O. Flender, (129); tree warden, Keith L. Emin (133); surveyor of wood, lumber, and bark three-year term, Keith Emin (11); surveyor of wood, lumber, and bark one-year term, Elisha Wiesner (5); constable, Marshall E. Carroll 3rd,  (132); Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission, Pamela Spear Goff, (131).