Calais woman pleads guilty to school department theft

Posted Feb. 10, 2009, at 9:47 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — A Calais woman pleaded guilty in Washington County Superior Court on Tuesday admitting that she stole nearly $200,000 from the Calais School Department.

Tina Moholland, 37, was charged with stealing $197,020 between Sept. 23, 2004, and Nov. 9, 2007, from the Calais Day Treatment Program.

Moholland stood next to her attorney Jeffrey Toothacker of Ellsworth as she entered her plea. She could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. She remains free on bail and is expected to be sentenced in June.

For seven years, Moholland worked as a secretary, receptionist and bookkeeper for the Calais Day Treatment Program. Her job was to bill districts that sent students to the day treatment program. The tuition money was logged under a grant the city treatment center had received, and the state would deduct that amount from the grant. Moholland allegedly was depositing the tuition checks into her own accounts.

The theft involved a total of 29 checks paid to the city.

One check was deposited to her account at Bangor Savings Bank. The other 28 checks were deposited to her account at Savings Bank of Maine, formerly Gardiner Savings Institution and Calais Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Checks ranged from as much as $29,276 paid by Indian Township to as little as $2,600 paid by the town of Baileyville. Other communities that paid tuition were: Pleasant Point, Perry, East Machias, Lubec and Eastport.

Moholland was able to deposit the checks into her own accounts because they were made out not only to the Calais Day Treatment Program but also to her. “All of the checks were endorsed by Moholland and put in her own account,” Hancock and Washington county District Attorney Michael Povich told the court on Tuesday.

The savings and loan bank caught on. “Finally the bank woke up and said something was wrong,” Povich said. It refused to deposit the check and notified the city, which in turn notified police, Povich said.

In the meantime, Moholland took the 29th check that the savings and loan bank had refused to Bangor Savings Bank in Calais and opened an account as Tina Moholland doing business as the Calais Day Treatment Program.

Calais police confronted Moholland, Povich told the court, and she confessed. She was fired from the school department. “She said she was a single mother who wanted the same opportunities as other people had,” Povich related.

Povich said that the treatment program had about 40 students. He described them as “kids with behavioral problems.”

Last year, Union 106 Superintendent James Underwood told the City Council that the savings and loan bank had agreed to make good on the checks.

“So between the $10,000 insurance and the little money we were able to retrieve, the Savings Bank of Maine has agreed to give us all of the rest of the money back,” Underwood said last year.

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