Former Warner food pantry director indicted for theft

By MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Monitor staff

Published: 10-05-2023 4:29 PM

The former director of Warner Connects, Lori Garrett, has been indicted for theft and fraudulent credit card charges from the local food pantry. 

Over the course of almost two years, Garrett is accused of using a Warner Connects credit card to charge over $1,500 in cash and merchandise.

Garrett started Warner Connects in 2020, taking over food distribution from the county Community Action Program, which operates an area resource center out of the Warner Community Center on West Main Street. 

Once Warner Connects split off from the Community Action Program, it began operating a pantry out of the kitchen in the basement of the town-owned building, which houses nonprofits and a daycare center. 

The agency became a focal point in town as it did not have 501(c)(3) status with the state of New Hampshire, nor was there a clear picture of its finances. Amid lease negotiations, residents and select board members raised concerns about management within Warner Connects. The state Attorney General’s Office began investigating. 

Garrett officially resigned from the organization on March 13. 

Since the spring, Apryl Blood, the vice chair of the Warner Connects board, has helped the organization apply for nonprofit status and straighten out their books. Now, the organization has expanded to include Family Closet, a thrift store on the first floor, where proceeds are used to offset the organization’s costs.   

The turmoil within the organization, though, did not affect their operations. The most recent distribution numbers show that in August, Warner Connects provided 1,435 meals to 171 households. Out of that, 131 of those households lived in Warner. 

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The organization averages 1,000 to 1,400 meals a month and provided over $100,000 of services last year, according to Blood. 

The two charges Garrett faces are both Class A felonies, which hold a prison sentence of at least 7 and a half years. She is due to be be arraigned at Merrimack Superior Court Friday morning. 

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