Man says he stole from beer judges

CONCORD – A Nashua man who admitted to tapping the accounts of a group that certifies beer judges will pay back $43,139 and serve 12 weeks in federal prison, a judge has ordered.

William Slack, of 202 Flagstone Drive, Apt. 10, was indicted last year in U.S. District Court and pleaded guilty in September to a mail-fraud charge.

Slack admitted to siphoning money while serving as treasurer of the Beer Judges Certification Program, a nonprofit group based in New York.

Founded in 1985, the BJCP certifies and ranks beer judges through an examination and monitoring. The group has about 2,500 active members, and an elected board of directors, which in turn elects officers including the president and treasurer.

Slack admitted to using BJCP funds for his own use and having the organization’s bank statements sent to his home so he could cover his tracks. Prosecutors could prove that Slack stole nearly $31,000, while the BJCP estimated it had lost some $64,000, the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen said recently.

Slack was sentenced recently in U.S. District Court. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and federal guidelines suggested a sentence of 10 to 16 months in prison for Slack, Huftalen said.

Huftalen recommended five months in prison, followed by five months home confinement, while Slack’s lawyer, public defender Bjorn Lange, argued for home confinement and probation, Huftalen said.

Judge Steven McAuliffe settled on a more uncommon “intermittent” sentence, ordering that Slack spend one week a month in federal prison for 12 months, starting in February, Huftalen said. Slack also will remain on probation for five years, he said.

Though Huftalen said he doesn’t know why McAuliffe settled on those terms, he said “there was discussion” during the hearing of whether Slack would become disqualified from collecting his Social Security benefits if he were incarcerated.

The two sides also negotiated restitution of $43,139, court records show, which Slack will be ordered to pay back over time.

Slack previously was arrested in an unrelated incident in 1998, when he was accused of pointing a shotgun at a teenage Telegraph carrier who was trying to collect money for his delivery route.

Information on the Beer Judges Certification Program is available on the group’s Web site: