By Eric Francis
BRIDGEWATER – A century-old trout fishing club centered around a private lake in a picturesque corner of Bridgewater has filed a lawsuit at Woodstock’s superior courthouse alleging that the club’s treasurer essentially helped himself to the contents of their treasury over the course of the past three years.
Bruce McAllister of Post Mills is now embroiled in two civil suits alleging that he misappropriated up to $123,000 from the Bridgewater’s Meccawe Club and another $230,000 from the Alpha Theta fraternity house at Dartmouth College where McAllister, a Dartmouth alum, was also the treasurer for the fraternity.
The Standard has also learned this week that McAllister, who worked for years as the auditor for Dartmouth College before his retirement a decade ago, is now apparently the target of a federal investigation being spearheaded by the United States Secret Service office in Burlington.
A source familiar with the case said that Secret Service agents have been interviewing officials of the Meccawe Club and Alpha Theta has sent a letter to its members and alumni this week which read in part “We are now fully cooperating with a federal criminal investigation.” That probe appears to be looking into the possibility of interstate bank fraud and/or that McAllister may have transferred funds from some of his financial dealings to off-shore entities.
Meccawe Club officials are not sure exactly where all of the funds McAllister allegedly misappropriated from them went, in large part because they said McAllister did not provide them with adequate or accurate records over the course of the five years he served as club treasurer until the board finally dismissed him in September.
The lawsuit filed with the court suggests that as early as 2008 the Meccawe Club’s board was growing concerned about the details of some of the financial dealings McAllister reported that he was carrying out on the club’s behalf, but they said their requests for clarification and greater documentation were essentially rebuffed.
“Although the board of directors repeatedly asked McAllister to explain how the funds…were spent, McAllister never provided a coherent and understandable explanation,” the complaint reads, continuing that, “although McAllister never directly refused to do so, he (nonetheless) failed to provide the requested accounting.”
Once the board formally removed McAllister from his post last fall and demanded that he turn over all of the club’s records in his possession, “McAllister again delayed and prevaricated until October 5, at which point he delivered an uncoordinated hodgepodge of documents containing incomplete fragments of information which are sufficient only to show that he wrongfully misused club funds and violated his fiduciary duties by, among other things, co-mingling club funds with the funds of other organizations,” the complaint alleges.
The club’s auditors said they found checks that McAllister appeared to have written to a variety of individuals and businesses that McAllister was directly involved with, including to Alpha Theta House, but which had no connection to the Meccawe club itself.
Among those entities were McAllister’s wife, Judith, who is also named as a defendant from whom the lawsuits are seeking to recover funds, and a small lumber business McAllister operates at his residence in Thetford called Sugartop Sawmill.
Meccawe Club member Loye Miller of Lebanon, who raised many of the red flags against McAllister after he agreed to serve as the club’s assistant treasurer when McAllister, who is in his 70s, began suffering health problems in recent years, said he has seen indications that McAllister may have been transferring funds amongst other area clubs and associations as well.
In an interview on Wednesday, Miller recalled finding checks McAllister had written to a snowmobile club called the Hurricane Riders and to the Hanover Hockey Association paying out more than $10,000 in Meccawe Club funds.
Miller said that it was McAllister’s sterling reputation as someone whom Dartmouth College had trusted with their own books for years and the fact that he was having to increasingly take time off to undergo cancer treatments which led people to initially overlook the sloppy bookkeeping and discrepancies.
Now, with Secret Service agents asking questions about McAllister’s activities stretching back several years and across several organizations, it may just be a matter of time before what are currently strictly civil lawsuits take a criminal turn.
“He’s in deep trouble,” Miller said Wednesday.
By Eric Francis