A former employee of the Newton assessor’s office, accused of wrongly giving elderly residents a $1,000 property tax exemption, was arraigned Monday on charges of forgery and filing of a false report by a public worker.
Stanley Dobies, 62, pleaded not guilty to the charges, said Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. If convicted, Dobies faces up to 10 years in prison, Guyotte said.
Dobies’s lawyer, Joseph Donnellan, said Tuesday morning that he had not yet received permission from his client to discuss the case.
Dobies had been employed by the city assessor’s office since 1987 and resigned Nov. 20 as a result of the investigation, said Donnalyn Kahn, Newton’s solicitor.
Prior to that, Dobies had been on medical leave, most of it unpaid, for the past 19 months, Kahn said.
According to city officials, Dobies allegedly whited-out or copied over income information in applications for an elderly tax exemption. Last year about six to 10 people whose incomes exceeded the requirements received the $1,000 tax discount. The residents seemed unaware of the scheme and it is unclear why they got the exemption, though none of them were exceedingly wealthy, Kahn said.
The assessor’s office is conducting an internal audit to determine if the false documentation went back further than one year, Kahn said.
Newton officials discovered the discrepancy in the documents in October and the city has increased oversight of the program, said Mayor Setti Warren.
The assessor’s office now requires supervisors who approve tax exemptions to review all the supporting documentation, including tax returns. Previously, the supervisor only reviewed a list of names.
“We are deeply disappointed about the suspected forgery,” Warren said.
Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org