Ex-Newburgh clerk agrees to pay back money she stole

Posted June 29, 2010, at 8:36 p.m.

NEWBURGH, Maine — Selectmen have approved and signed a document in which former Deputy Town Clerk and Treasurer Cindy Dunton agrees to repay the nearly $200,000 in town funds she has admitted to stealing plus more than $50,000 in attorney and auditor fees.

Dunton has not been charged with any crime, though she has cooperated with a forensic investigation being conducted by a town-hired auditor and the Maine State Police.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Leonard Belcher said at Monday night’s board meeting that once the auditor completes his report, it will be forwarded to Maine State Police detectives. The case then will be turned over to Penobscot County District Attorney Christopher Almy, who has said the matter likely will be presented to the grand jury.

The 12-page document, signed by selectmen last week and earlier by Dunton and her husband, Alan, outlines $199,536.54 in embezzlement alleged to have been committed by Cindy Dunton, including writing checks to herself and her husband and paying her property taxes and health insurance premiums with town funds. The document also makes the Duntons liable for $52,899.85 in attorney and auditor fees.

Because it is in essence a promissory note, the document places a lien on the Duntons’ real estate holdings and forces them to try to sell their property and personal possessions in an attempt to repay the debt to the town. The Duntons will be charged 8 percent interest a year until the debt is paid.

The document states that the amount owed could change if more embezzlement activity by Cindy Dunton is uncovered.

Also Monday:

• It was announced that the town’s property tax rate will not change in the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

Selectmen said the mill rate in fiscal year 2011 would remain at $13.98 per $1,000 of value. Selectmen said they hoped tax bills would be sent to residents by mid-July and that anyone who pays within 15 days of the mailing will receive a 2 percent discount.

• It was announced that the search for a new town manager had attracted 34 candidates as of Monday, five days before the application process closes Friday. The search, conducted on behalf of the town by the Maine Municipal Association, began after the resignation of former Town Manager Nancy Hatch earlier this year.

• It was announced that the town office will be closed next week to allow acting Town Manager Lois Libby to have a vacation. Libby is the town office’s only regular paid employee since the resignations of Dunton and Hatch, so her vacation necessitates the town office closure, according to selectmen. The office will resume its normal business hours the week of July 12.

• Selectmen installed Jeff Watson on the planning board by unanimous vote. The opening was created recently by the resignation of Seth Jones, who has moved away from Newburgh.

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