By Barbara Taormina
Last fall, the City Council and The Boston Globe received an email with information about Malden’s city treasurer search from City Council President Debbie DeMaria. The only problem was that DeMaria did not write or send it. The real author was Andrew Vanni, one of the six finalists for the city treasurer job.
“There was an email fraud under my name,” said DeMaria this week. “It was not from me; it was certainly against open meeting laws, and it was an election season and it was based around the treasurer who we were going to elect as city treasurer.”
DeMaria said she was told she would never find out who actually sent the email. But with the help of the Malden Police, and particularly detective Captain Marc Gatcomb, the email was traced back to Vanni, a Medford resident, who sent it from a Malden computer.
“It was up to me to put this gentleman to task,” said DeMaria. “Email fraud or identity theft is not only illegal, it’s an unnerving personal experience.”
DeMaria, City Solicitor Kate Fallon and City Clerk Tom Brennan negotiated an agreement with Vanni that began with an open and public apology. She shared a letter she received from Vanni with fellow councillors and the community at the end of this week’s City Council meeting. “I was responsible for authoring and transmitting an email communication which I intended to appear to be from you and sent it to the Malden City Council and the Boston Globe,” wrote Vanni. “I am sorry for doing this, my actions were due to a lapse in judgement and I recognize the harm I caused.”
Vanni acknowledged that he had caused DeMaria both personal and professional harm. He also admitted that his “error in judgement” was also disruptive to the City Council, and he apologized to councillors. “I know the nature of this harm cannot be quantified, but in remorse for my actions, I am making a financial donation to a Malden charitable organization,” he said.
DeMaria actually asked for two charitable donations, and Vanni wrote two $500 checks, one to Bread of Life and the other to Malden Overcoming Addiction.
Vanni, who worked as the finance director for Middleton for about 13 years, also served short one-year stints as the treasurer for Haverhill and then for Sudbury. He was one of the six final candidates that Malden’s Treasurer Search Committee pulled from a pool of about 170 applicants for the job.
But Vanni dropped out of the running for the job in Malden and never came to his public interview with the City Council; however, he did show up for an interview with the Randolph Town Council, which selected him as a finalist for the town finance director post in December 2016. According to the minutes from that public interview, Vanni told the Randolph town councillors that he left his job in Haverhill because he was working for a mayor who was “more interested in doing bad things.” Vanni also said he was let go as the finance director in Sudbury because the town manager decided to hire someone else.
Councillors were also troubled by the fact that Vanni’s cover letter was directed to the Town of Beverly rather than Randolph. They also said Vanni was unprepared and nervous during his interview and that his answers to questions were evasive. Vanni did not get the job.
Vanni had better luck in Millbury last October when town officials decided to hire him as that community’s finance director.