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Former Needham tax assessor pleads guilty to federal tax evasion charges

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  August 21, 2013 04:25 PM

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A former elected tax assessor for Needham has pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges after the US Attorney's office said he failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes on his firefighter's salary and on money prosecutors say he misappropriated from an elderly resident.

Kevin Foley, 56, who is a longtime Needham firefighter, pleaded guilty July 30 to three charges of felony tax evasion. He was charged in 2011 with failing to pay $115,552 on nearly $500,000 in income between June 2006 and April 2010, according to US Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office.

Sentencing is slated for Oct. 24. He faces up to 15 years in prison, $300,000 in fines in addition to restitution, and supervised release, according to the US Attorney's office.

Prosecutors said Foley failed to pay taxes on $492,000 of funds that he appropriated to himself from a Needham woman, who was 77 years old at the time of Foley's arrest. The US Attorney's office said in an indictment that Foley withdrew cash from the woman’s bank accounts and purchased money orders for his personal use and endorsed checks drawn from her bank accounts to pay personal expenses including his mortgage.

He also transferred money from her account to his bank accounts, used her ATM card to withdraw money for his own use, and withdrew money from her account to purchase a cashier’s check, which he used to by a boat for himself, prosecutors said.

The US Attorney's office said Foley also failed to file taxes for his legally-earned income from Needham in tax years 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Foley was elected to Needham's Board of Assessors for a one-year term in 2007, and ran successfully again for three-year terms in 2008 and April 2011 in townwide elections.

Despite being indicted, Foley remained as an elected member of the board of assessors for the past two years because town officials said he must resign or be found guilty to be kicked off the board.

He resigned on June 18, said Needham town clerk Tedi Eaton, but did not provide a specific reason why.

Needham's administrative assessor, Chip Davis, said Foley had continued going to assessment board meetings, where members' primary responsibility is reviewing tax abatement applications, until shortly before Foley's resignation this summer.

"He did his job during that period," Davis said. "According to law, he could remain on the board until he was tried, convicted, and sentenced."

Eaton said sitting on the Board of Assessors was a voluntary position and does not fetch a salary for its members.

She said the Board of Selectmen appointed Needham resident Kurt Ochalla this week to fill the vacant seat until the town-wide election is held in April 2014.

Needham officials suspended Foley from his job as a firefighter in May 2011 without pay. His firefighter salary was $63,133, without overtime, officials previously said.

The victim, who was 77 years old at the time, previously told media outlets that Foley took over keeping track of her finances after her husband died.

"He's a rat. He did a number on me and on my kids,'' she said in a 2011 WCVB-TV interview. "He said he would take over the book keeping. That sounded like a pretty good idea to me, having never done it before. It was stupid, really stupid... It was the last person in the world that I thought would do that, because he was being helpful. Little did I realize that he was stealing me blind.''

Reached by phone this week, the woman declined to comment on Foley's guilty plea.

"I don't wish to talk about it," she said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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