Former Hampden Superior Court Clerk Charged with Taking Thousands of Dollars in Bail Money
SPRINGFIELD – A former Assistant Clerk and Bail Magistrate in Hampden Superior Court has been charged with taking thousands of dollars in bail money, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
In a criminal complaint issued today in Springfield District Court, William L. Eason, age 61, of Springfield, was charged with Use of an Official Position to Secure an Unwarranted Privilege (2 counts) and Larceny over $250. Eason will be arraigned on March 18 in Springfield District Court.
“We allege that this defendant abused his position as a court clerk by taking thousands of dollars in bail money for his own personal use,” AG Coakley said. “He was entrusted with bail money and we allege he violated that trust by continually taking the money and attempting to conceal his actions.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation in April 2013 after the Office of Bail Administration referred the matter to law enforcement. Eason served as an Assistant Clerk in Hampden Superior Court for more than 26 years. He was also authorized to set and take bail as a bail magistrate.
Bail magistrates are required to maintain a bank account in their own name as part of managing the bails they receive, which are usually in cash. After accepting cash from the person posting bail, the magistrate is to immediately deposit the cash in their bail account and then write a check from the account to the appropriate court, where the funds are held until the case is resolved or the court orders a change in bail.
Investigation revealed that from late September 2011 until June 2012, Eason allegedly collected bail money and occasionally took a portion of it for his own use when his personal funds were low. He allegedly then repaid the bail later using his own money when he had the funds, either from paychecks he received or in one case, in the form of a bank loan.
From June 2012 until February 2013, authorities allege that Eason continued to take bail money but mostly stopped repaying it, allegedly taking in more than $10,800. According to investigators, Eason allegedly collected bail money but failed to deposit all of it into his bail account or deliver it to court. He also allegedly made various direct cash withdrawals from the bail account for reasons unrelated to paying bails.
Authorities allege that Eason kept his theft undiscovered primarily by taking recently collected bail money and using it to pay back old bail money before it was due back to the defendant or surety.
Eason was suspended from his duties pending the investigation and subsequently resigned on Feb. 12, 2014.
This case is being handled by Jim O’Brien, Chief of Attorney General Coakley's Public Integrity Division, along with assistance from Financial Investigator Anthony Taylor and State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.