December 04. 2013 9:26PM

Former Plaistow finance director charged with theft

Union Leader Correspondent

PLAISTOW — The town's former finance director has been charged with theft after town officials say she overpaid herself more than $20,000.

Janet Gallant of Pelham was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony theft by unauthorized taking or transfer.

According to police, a criminal probe began after officials became suspicious of payroll transactions that occurred while Gallant was working for the town.

The town hired an outside accounting agency to conduct an audit of her work after she was fired in September.

Police said the audit found she had overpaid herself on several occasions and that the amount exceeded $20,000.

"We have insurance for these types of issues, but certainly we're going to do everything we can to ensure that any and all funds can be recovered that have been misappropriated. Certainly this is something that we take very seriously and we will take every step to protect the integrity of the town's fiduciary responsibilities," said town manager Sean Fitzgerald.

Gallant was hired in Plaistow in April 2011 and was terminated from her position on Sept. 4, Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said the town "identified some concerns" about Gallant's work at the end of 2012. He said the accounting firm was hired in January to look into the concerns that allegedly involved Gallant making unauthorized electronic payments.

"I immediately brought in a CPA firm to go in and really audit the office and help manage the responsibilities of the finance office. We identified some irregularities and immediately notified the county attorney and the Plaistow Police Department and began a criminal investigation that concluded Tuesday with her arrest," he said.

Fitzgerald said town officials were "saddened by this apparent breach of public trust."

Gallant could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

She was released on $50,000 personal recognizance bail and is due in court in January.