Methuen city clerk accused of stealing, pawning silver plates from vault

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METHUEN, Mass. - A long-time Methuen city employee is accused of stealing historic plates worth tens of thousands of dollars from a vault she was trusted to clean.

Mayor Stephen Zanni says, said he is disappointed with Judith Hajjar, the city clerk accused of stealing the silver dinner plates from city hall's vault.

“A piece of our city's history, has been lost forever. It is a shame that one person’s greed has cost us dearly,” he said. “It's tough in one respect, here you have an employee, who really over 20 years has done nothing wrong.”

Jeff Farelli, is an electrician at city hall who said he knows 59-year-old Hajjar and is stunned by the allegations.

“Every time I've dealt with her, she's a very nice and pleasant woman,” he said.

The investigations started last month after another city clerk tipped off authorities about the seven missing plates.

“Ms. Conway noticed the plates were missing after the historical society requested them and they couldn't be located,” Police Capt. Kris McCarthy said.

The plates, which had belonged to the Searles family, were sold to the city more than two decades ago and they were kept in the city's vault.

Police said they believe Hajjar sold them to a pawn shop in Lowell for $700.

“Hajjar sold the plates to a pawn shop, which later sold them to a refinery and they were melted down for scrap,” McCarthy said.

Hajjar has been charged with seven counts of larceny and is on administrative leave, as the investigation continues. In addition, the mayor says Hajjar’s pension could be in jeopardy.

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