The office accountant who wrote former Chelsea Housing Authority executive director Michael McLaughlin checks for more than $200,000 on his way out the door is a longtime family friend who also helped him remove boxes from the housing authority after the office closed Wednesday night.
James McNichols, who worked as a nightclub bouncer in Boston for nine years before he was hired to handle the finances of the Housing Authority in 2000, issued three checks totaling $200,948 to McLaughlin, who quit abruptly after Governor Deval Patrick demanded his resignation amid the furor over his $360,000 pay package.
The checkwriting incensed state officials, who immediately ordered Chelsea Housing Authority’s new interim director to stop payment. But McLaughlin had already cashed one for more than $80,000. Officials said they will try to get the money back.
McNichols, whom McLaughlin considers family according to someone with direct knowledge of the department’s personnel, is close to McLaughlin’s sons, Matthew and Michael, and, according to school alumni records, attended Providence College with them in the early 1990s.
McNichols, whose title is senior accountant/purchaser, makes $65,434 a year, according to a list of salaries the housing authority provided to the state. It’s the same list that reported McLaughlin’s salary as $160,000.
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