Saturday, 2:15 PM
Lawyer: Middlesex official denies theft, still seeks reelection
By Christopher Baxter, Globe Staff
CAMBRIDGE -- John Buonomo, the Middlesex County register of probate, stood silently with his hands clasped at his waist as he was arraigned today on more than 30 charges for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from copy and cash machines in the government building where he works.
A not guilty plea was entered in Cambridge District Court on Buonomo's behalf by his lawyer, Michael F. Natola. The 56-year-old Democrat from Newton was released without bail until a probable cause hearing Sept. 18. Buonomo nodded as he was ordered to have no contact with the registry of probate or deeds and the personnel employed there.
After the brief proceeding, Natola declined to discuss the charges in detail.
"We really don't have much about the government's case at this time," Natola said. "Iím not in a position to comment on the allegations yet."
Buonomo is accused of robbing copy and cash machines at least 18 times since June in the Registry of Deeds office, which is in the same Cambridge Street building as his probate office. Prosecutor John Verner said today in court that investigators found a box under Buonomo's desk that contained more the 100 single dollar bills and two keys that matched the cash machines in the Registry of Deeds office.
At press conference Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors played video footage of three occasions - July 23, Aug. 1, and Aug. 5 - in which they said Buonomo could be seen approaching a cash machine with caution and looking around before opening the machine with a key. State Police detectives began investigating after the Registry of Deeds noticed thousands of dollars in monthly shortages in receipts from the copy and change machines.
Detectives set up surveillance cameras and witnessed Buonomo allegedly opening the machines repeatedly. On eight of those occasions he pulled out cash, put some back, and put the rest in his pocket, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone.
"This is a brazen violation of public trust," Leone said at the press conference.
Buonomo was arrested Wednesday outside the Registry of Probate office in Cambridge.
Today outside court, Natola said that his client was anxious, upset and "very concerned about the charges that have been brought against him."
When asked about the election this fall, Natola said: "As we speak, he is a candidate for reelection. It is my expectation that he will remain a candidate for reelection."
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