Police: doughnut shop employee stole $18K from business

Doughnut shop employee charged with stealing $180,399 from business

Police have charged the accountant for a Haverhill doughnut shop with embezzling more than $180,000 from the business.

According to police report, Nicholas Sidie, 39, of 54 Olympic Village Rd., Methuen, had been taking money from the daily cash receipts of Heav'nly Donuts at 104 Plaistow Road since January of last year.

The owner of the business told police that when he confronted Sidie, Sidie told him he has a drug problem, is addicted to Oxycontin and had spent all of the money.

Following an investigation, a warrant was issued and Sidie was arrested on Friday, June 29. He was arraigned the same day in Haverhill District Court and charged with larceny over $1,200 by single scheme.

At the hearing, Sidie's defense lawyer, Gerald LaFlamme of Haverhill, waived the reading of the police report.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Sholds said that after speaking with LaFlamme, Sidie agreed to being held without bail and sent to a 28-day detox program.

LaFlamme told Judge Patricia Dowling that he'd spoken to Sidie's parents, who were in the courtroom, and was told the situation was all because of drugs and Sidie's "addiction to Oxycontin."

He said Sidie's parents had been trying to get their son into a rehab program, but were unsuccessful.

"This 28 (day) program would not only be appropriate, but helpful in an attempt to put Mr. Sidie on the right path in life," LaFlamme said.

Dowling agreed to the request and scheduled the next hearing via video conference on Aug. 3.

Police said that during their investigation, the owner of Heav'nly Donuts told them Sidie had been working for him for approximately five years and that he was in charge of accounting and handled the banking deposits.

The owner told police he was notified that the payroll account was under funded and payroll checks were bouncing.

The owner said he looked deeper into the situation, and found that bank deposit slips were substantially short on cash, ranging from $995 per month to $16,075 per month.

He said the total of the shortage between Jan. 3, 2017, and June 2 of this year was estimated to be $180,399.

Police said they obtained an arrest warrant for Sidie, after Sidie failed to respond to investigators' inquiries.

— Mike LaBella


Four from New Hampshire arrested on drug charges

Two men and two women from Osippee, New Hampshire were arrested by police in Haverhill recently after allegedly conducting a drug transaction in the McDonald's parking lot on River Street.

Police arrested one couple, but the other couple eluded them for an hour, when police were dispatched to Westgate Plaza for a reported opioid overdose.

Police charged Sheena O'Rourke, 36, of 209 Chickville Road, Osippee, and Jared Lawton, 37, of 11 Brookwood Drive, Osippee, both with trafficking over 200 grams of fentanyl, distribution of fentanyl, and conspiracy to violate the drug laws.

O'Rourke was also charged with possession of a Class E substance (Alprazolam).

Police said O'Rourke and Lawton were in a Jeep Grand Cherokee that was subsequently stopped on the highway.

Police also charged Kari Glidden, 32, of 95 Brown Ridge Road, Osippee, and Andrew Williams, 30, of 95 Brown Ridge Road, Osippee, with possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Police said Glidden and Williams were in a Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

O'Rourke and Lawton were arraigned on the charges on June 27, where each of them was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail.

Judge Stephen Abany noted that O'Rourke is in default in New Hampshire for possession of a firearm and ammunition without an FID card.

Abany said Lawton has prior drug charges in New Hampshire, and that he has failed to show up at scheduled court hearings in that state.

Probable cause hearings for O'Rourke and Lawton were scheduled for July 26.

Williams and Glidden were arraigned on June 28 before Judge Patricia Dowling, who set bail on each of them at $3,500.

Dowling noted that during the hearing, Glidden appeared to be high on drugs that she had refused to submit to a drug test.

Glidden has a lengthy criminal record in Osippee, according to the judge, and has been in default on a case in Lawrence since 2011.

Dowling also noted that prior to Williams' hearing, he tested positive for fentanyl, amphetamines and Suboxone, and that he admitted to "smoking a little meth."

Dowling scheduled pretrial hearings for Glidden and Williams for Aug. 3.

Police said that on June 26 at approximately 6:40 p.m., they were monitoring the Westgate Plaza area when they noticed a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which hailed from Wolfeboro, N.H., and a Toyota Tundra, also with New Hampshire plates, park a distance from each other at the McDonald's on River Street.

The area around Westgate Plaza has a history of having a high incidence of narcotics trafficking, police noted in their report, as there are numerous business where transactions can be concealed and it has easy access to the highway and to Route 110.

Police said Glidden, who was carrying a large pocketbook, got out of the Toyota, got into the Jeep, then returned to the Toyota. Police said the woman's behavior was an indicator of a drug transaction having taken place.

Both vehicles then exited the lot in different directions. Police stopped the Jeep along the on ramp to Interstate 495 north. A search of the Jeep turned up 217 grams of fentanyl. Police also seized three cell phones and $246 in cash. Police said O'Rourke was also in possession of 22 pills believed to be Alprazolam.

About 7:45 p.m., police were dispatched to Westgate Plaza for a report of an overdose in Toyota pickup truck matching the description of the one Glidden and Williams were seen in earlier at the McDonald's.

Police said Williams was being treated for an opiate overdose in the back of a Trinity ambulance. Glidden admitted to police that she'd purchased a "half finger" of drugs from the people in the Jeep, and that the man in the Jeep was the father of her child.

Glidden said they all know each other as they all come from Osippee.

Police said they seized about 5 grams of fentanyl from Glidden and Williams and $205 in cash from Glidden.

— Mike LaBella 


Police: Woman hit by pickup truck is in stable condition

A woman who was crossing Merrimack Street recently in front of the parking deck was struck by a Chevy Silverado pickup truck that was traveling east, police said.

The woman was in stable condition in a Boston hospital, police said. They did not release her name, but said she is 29 years old and from Haverhill.

The woman suffered serious injuries and was taken from the scene by ambulance, then moved by a helicopter to a Boston hospital.

The accident happened just after 7 a.m. on June 29, police said.

Police said they are investigating.

"There are no criminal charges at this time,'' said a press release issued by police Captain Stephen Doherty Jr.

A young man at the scene who identified himself as the driver of the black pickup truck but would not give his name told The Eagle-Tribune that he did not see the woman. He said a witness told him the woman ran across the street, giving him no time to react.

The man said glare from the sun might have been a factor because he was driving east, with the sun in his eyes. He said he is from Haverhill.

Immediately after the accident, police were talking with the driver and advising him on the need to file an accident report. They later allowed him to leave the scene.

— Mike LaBella


Heatwave surrounds July 4 holiday

We were stuck in a heatwave for the July 4 holiday and beyond.

The Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire dealt with heatwave conditions from early last week through the holiday.

Since Monday was the third or fourth consecutive day with 90-plus degrees, depending on where you live, the stretch qualified as a heatwave.

"You need three days of 90-plus (temperatures) to get a heat wave," said Nicole Belk of the National Weather Service.

"This is going to be a pretty long and humid stretch for the region," Belk said early last week. "Much of this week we're expecting highs in the nineties.''

Higher temperatures Monday, compounded by high humidity, pushed heat indexes past 100 degrees for some locations in New Hampshire, according to Derek Schroeter of the weather service.

Big cities in the region all recorded temperatures of 90 or higher for more than four days in a row, constituting heatwave conditions. They included Lawrence, Boston and Concord, New Hampshire.

Areas along the coast could see some relief, the weather service said.

"We do have a sea breeze keeping coastal conditions cooler,'' Schroeter said last week.

A cold front broke the heat late in the week, bringing showers and thunderstorms with it.

— Zoe Mathews


Locals protest Trump immigration policy

Activists gathered in downtown Haverhill and Andover's Shawsheen Square recently to protest the separation and detention of immigrant children and families by the Trump Administration.

They were just two of 700 peaceful protests held across the nation on June 30 protesting the administration's so-called "Zero Tolerance" immigration policy.

“It was heartening to see so many people show up, and I hope that our demonstration will inspire and mobilize more people," said Holly Currier, a member of Andover Area Solidarity Group, or AASG. "I hope our neighbors who aren’t yet involved will quickly realize that there are no outside forces that are coming to save the soul of our country."

She added: "We the people are the adults in the room, and it is up to us to hold the powerful accountable. If this administration is capable of traumatizing children to make a point, they are capable of doing worse to anyone. History is now, and it is up to us to decide our place in it.”

The activists in Haverhill gathered at busy White's corner at the eastern entrance to downtown. They chanted and held signs.

The protest at Shawsheen Square was hosted by AASG which, according to its Facebook page, is comprised of residents seeking to "take action based on embracing diversity, practicing love and making sure that our black, brown, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, lesbian and gay, disabled and immigrant family, friends and neighbors feel our support during the next four years."

Protesters held signs with messages including: "Abolish ICE," "Families should be together," and "Protect! Persist! Resist!"

Additional community groups that supported the protest included Merrimack Valley Stands Up for Racial Justice, Andover UU, North Parish Church, and Indivisible Andover.

Tram Nguyen, a candidate for the 18th Essex District seat in the House of Representatives currently held by Republican Jim Lyons, said the protest hit close to home for her. Nguyen came to the United States at the age of 5 with her family as political refugees from Vietnam. In her career as a legal aid attorney at nonprofit Greater Boston Legal Service, she has worked to help immigrants, among several other groups of people in need, including survivors of domestic violence, veterans and children.

"Children belong with their families," Nguyen said. "Stripping them away from their loved ones is a denial of their human dignity. As a legal aid attorney who has spent my career assisting vulnerable families, I am proud to be here with our neighbors to stand up against family separation and advocate for the immediate reunification of families that have already been separated."

Several other local political figures attended the protest as well, including Andover Selectman Laura Gregory, Democratic candidate for governor Jay Gonzalez, 3rd District candidates for US Congress Bopha Malone, State Senate candidate Barry Finegold, and candidate for the 14th Essex House of Representatives seat Christina Minicucci.

"I participated in the Andover rally on Saturday to lend my voice and presence to the hundreds of residents from Andover and surrounding towns," Gregory said. "The Andover rally and rallies across the country unite against the separation of children from their parents and must be ended immediately. And also to call on the White House and Congress to take immediate and effective steps to reunite these children with their parents."

AASG co-founder Elizabeth Buckley and North Parish Minister Lee Bluemel shared closing remarks, thanking those who attended the protest and telling them to continue calling elected officials. They also implored those at the protest to support local organizations and candidates in support of human rights.

“There are immigrant families right here in our community who are being ripped apart,” Bluemel said. “They need our support.”

Blumel also encouraged those at the protest to consider joining weekly Jericho walks at the Burlington ICE office along with the interfaith community in protest of deportation

— Kelsey Bode


If sports betting is legal, what happens to the neighborhood bookie?

Illegal sports betting will soon be replaced in many states by legal sports betting. Or will it?

Maybe the better question is this: How much illegal sports betting will now become legit?

Those are among the many questions swirling around betting in America since the U.S. Supreme Court in May overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which since 1992 had prevented states from allowing legal sports gambling.

Much was at stake in the high court’s 6 to 3 ruling — mainly the 97 percent of the billions bet on sporting events and contests, which is the portion that the American Gaming Association estimates is wagered illegally.

In the short term, your neighborhood bookie is probably safe — from commercial competition anyway. There are a lot of issues and legalities to work out such as licenses, access, fees for pro sports franchises, etc.

Even after those wrinkles are smoothed out, illegal bookies will likely offer a more personal service and flexibility compared to buttoned-up betting parlors or gambling websites.

“The reality of the illegal gambling arm that's never gonna change — it doesn't matter the legislation — is they allow you to bet on credit," said Tim Otteman, former gambler and assistant professor at Central Michigan University.

"If you're betting with your local bookmaker, the deal is you pay Tuesdays,” he said. “But we're not going to pay out unless you're up $300, and we're not going to collect unless you're down $300. You're using a credit of $600 — where you never have to pay them as long as you're in the middle range.

Casinos and betting parlors don’t do that. You want to bet, you have to pay.

In the long-term, the survival of your local bookie probably depends upon their ability to adapt to a changing landscape, including online betting and the opportunity to wager by app.

"Our hope is — and our goal — is to put the illegal bookie out of business,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president for public affairs at the American Gaming Association.

How can that happen?

For bettors, the price has to be right. Too many taxes and fees from commercial gambling will cut into payouts.

"The No. 1 thing the consumers want is the best odds," said Slane. "In order to have the best odds, the bookie has to be able to operate under an advantageous tax policy — 36 cents (per dollar) after paying winners on every single dollar is not a sustainable business model.

"There have to be reasonable and practical tax rates in place as well as consumer platforms they need and desire," she added. "In addition to brick-and-mortar opportunities, we also support an interstate online mobile platform."

There’s a lot of money at play.

A report by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission cited estimates that more than $100 billion is bet annually. Slane’s association estimates closer to $150 billion, while a study by H2 Gambling Capital, an analytics company, sets it at $192 billion annually.

The amount wagered illegally is difficult to pin down. A September report by another research company, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, estimates a black market value of about $50 to $60 billion per year.

Commercial gambling businesses and state governments both look at those estimates and dream of profits and tax revenue.

For states, they’re already getting action from the growth of state-operated lotteries over the past few decades. Forty-four states either run or share a lottery with another state, and networks offer Powerball and Mega-Millions.

Lottery sales throughout the country totaled $80.5 billion in fiscal 2016, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries — compared to about $53 billion just six years earlier.

In addition, at least 43 states offer some casino-style gambling, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Nearly half of those allow card games like poker and blackjack, betting on horses and dog races.

At this point, it’s hard to know how large the sports betting market will be.

That’s not just because the illegal wagering economy is hard to pin down. It’s also because of confusion.

Many state and national estimates are misunderstood, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s research, because they reflect a betting handle — not revenue.

The handle refers to the total amount bet, which is different from how much is paid out and how much gets taxed.

The commission notes that sports books typically clear about 5 percent of the handle.

In the end, actual figures won’t be known until the legal sports books open for business.

— Bill Burt


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