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March 30, 2013

Gloucester woman admits $10K check fraud

DANVERS — A Gloucester woman who worked at a Danvers insurance business has admitted that she forged a series of checks totaling nearly $10,000 from the company’s accounts to pay her own bills and other expenses.

Amy Peterson Malaquias, 34, of 26 Harrison Ave., Gloucester, will spend the next three years on probation, while she pays restitution to Health Reinsurance Management Partnership and to the Salem Five bank. If she pays the $9,524 in restitution, the charges, including felony larceny, will be dismissed, a Salem District Court judge ordered Thursday.

Malaquias had worked for the Danvers business for more than three years, according to a police report by Danvers Detective Robert Sullivan. She has an accounting degree, she told a judge.

Over a period of several months in 2011 and last year, however, Malaquias forged checks, using the company’s computers to issue “payments” to a co-worker and a contractor, then forging the name of a manager on the signature line.

Two checks totaling $7,200 were cashed in September and November at Salem Five.

Then, in April, Malaquias altered a company check to make it payable to National Grid, to whom she owed $650.

Police later confirmed that the payment had gone to the account of an “Amy Peterson,” and the earlier checks had been deposited into a Rockport National Bank account in that name.

The following month, her scheme came to light when her landlord called the business, asking why her $1,200 rent was being paid with a corporate check. Confronted by police, Malaquias confessed, saying she needed the money.

Malaquias and her lawyer said she has since started a new job, also in the accounting field, and will be able to pay $264 a month in restitution.

Judge Matthew Nestor granted the request by Malaquias, her lawyer and a prosecutor to continue the case without a finding for three years on the condition that she repay all of the money.

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