Cop resigns over stolen $$$
Report: Patrolman stole $600 during drug bust
August 16, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Last month, Police Chief Daniel Charette got the OK to hire an officer to replace Mark Berquist, who resigned two months ago. But nobody at the time was officially discussing why Berquist left.
Records obtained by the Southbridge Evening News last week, however, revealed Berquist had admitted to stealing $600 from an apartment being searched for drugs June 14.
"I applaud the chief that this was something immediately investigated," said Town Manager Chris Clark, who was part of the decision to let Berquist resign rather than face prosecution. "It was done very professionally … and is a sign of good government at work."
Although state law defines larceny over $250 as a felony potentially punishable by five years in prison or two years in jail and a $25,000 fine, Clark said the town opted not to charge him largely because Berquist quickly confessed and returned the money. In a similar investigation in his previous town of Vernon, Conn., he said, he was told the return of such funds would make such a case almost impossible to prosecute. He observed Berquist's loss of a job is a penalty in itself, especially since the case is now part of the public record for potential future employers to see.
See Moday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.