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August 6, 2008 07:00 PM
By Globe Staff

John Buonomo, the register of probate for Middlesex County, has been arrested for allegedly repeatedly stealing public money from copy and cash machines located in the Registry of Deeds, the Middlesex district attorney's office said in a statement.

The arrest comes after a weeks-long probe by State Police assigned to the district attorney's office that included video surveillance of Buonomo, prosecutors said.

No further details were immediately available. District Attorney Gerard Leone slated a news conference for later this evening.

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Despite allegation$, John R. Buonomo still up for re-election

Photo by WHDH-TV
Busted: Middlesex Register of Probate John R. Buonomo, who is seeking re-election, is seen in this surveillance tape allegedly stealing from a copy machine at the Registry of Deeds.

The Middlesex register of probate is still a candidate for re-election, his lawyer said yesterday, even though he was allegedly caught on camera red-handed stealing thousands of dollars from copy and change machines at the Registry of Deeds.
John R. Buonomo, 56, of West Newton was released on his own recognizance yesterday after pleading not guilty to 18 counts of breaking and entering into a depository, eight counts of theft of public property by a county officer and eight counts of larceny under $250. If convicted, he faces maximum penalties of 20 years, 10 years and 2 years for the charges, respectively.
"He's anxious, he's upset and he's very concerned," Michael F. Notola said outside Cambridge District Court. "(But) he is a candidate for re-election, and it's my expectation he'll remain a candidate for re-election."
State police assigned to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone's office planted hidden cameras in the Registry of Deeds - located in the same building as Buonomo's office - after employees noticed monthly shortages in money from their copy machines, said Assistant District Attorney John Verner.
Over the past two months, Buonomo was captured on video allegedly accessing the machines in the basement and on the second floor of the registry at least 18 times. He allegedly took cash for himself on at least eight of those occasions. Buonomo was able to gain access to the machines because both offices have identical keys for them, Leone said.
Two electricians saw him allegedly opening the machines, Verner said. And a stack of 100 $1 bills was found under his desk when he was arrested Wednesday, Verner said.
Buonomo initially denied the charges, Verner said. When he was shown the video, he acknowledged he was the person in the clips, but maintained he took nothing, the prosecutor said. Then Buonomo claimed that he took the money to buy supplies for the court, Verner said.
First elected in 2000, Buonomo has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the case, according to Joan Kenney, a trial court spokeswoman.
He is due back in court Sept. 18.

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