HOULTON, Maine — The former town manager of Amity who pleaded no contest in May to a charge that he stole approximately $40,000 from the rural community was sentenced Wednesday and sent directly to jail despite a plea that his sentence be stayed until he finished working the potato harvest.
Darrell Williams, 54, of Monticello was indicted by the Aroostook County grand jury in May 2008 on one count of theft by unauthorized taking of an amount greater than $10,000. He pleaded no contest to the Class B crime in May. Williams also pleaded no contest at the time to a forgery charge stemming from a separate incident. A no-contest plea results in a conviction.
Aroostook County Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter sentenced Williams to six years in prison with all but one year suspended on the theft charge, along with three years probation. He also must make restitution in the amount of $38,200 to the town of Amity. So far, he has paid back $2,800.
On the forgery charge, he was given a six-month jail sentence to be served consecutively with the sentence for theft. He began serving the sentence Wednesday.
Williams spent five years as town manager in the southern Aroostook County town until he resigned in 2007. During Williams’ time as town manager, he stole money from the town in a number of ways, including by pocketing excise taxes paid by residents, according to Aroostook County District Attorney Neale Adams.
A number of Amity residents have attended hearings related to the Williams case since he was first charged, and Adams said a number of residents were in the courtroom for his sentencing Wednesday.
Williams also was town manager in Oakfield for about three years. He resigned from that position in April 2006 without giving a reason. No charges have ever been filed involving his position in Oakfield.
The forgery charge is connected to when Williams was working for a radio station in Penobscot County last year. Williams reportedly signed a client’s name to a sales contract. The client, who was reportedly an Aroostook County man, later denied that he had ever signed such a contract.
Adams said Williams’ attorney, Torrey Sylvester, requested on Wednesday afternoon that the hearing be continued so Williams could continue to work on the potato harvest. Hunter denied the motion. In addition to working on the harvest, Williams also has been the preacher at the Monticello Pentecostal Church for several years. His name still was listed as the preacher on the church’s sign as of Thursday.
Adams said the state recommended Williams serve six years in prison with all but two years suspended and three years’ probation, as well as make full restitution to the town.
“In these types of cases, we often give a misdemeanor charge to someone who has paid most or all of the money back by the time of sentencing,” Adams said Friday. “But Mr. Williams did not make much of an effort at all. This case has been going on for more than two years and he’d only paid back $2,800.”
While considering sentencing, Hunter reviewed a petition signed by 155 Amity residents who sought justice for the town.
Sylvester, who pointed out that his client had no prior criminal history, argued unsuccessfully for a lighter sentence. Hunter also denied Sylvester’s request for a delay of incarceration so that Williams could finish working on the potato harvest.
Williams could have received up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
Adams said he was satisfied with the sentence.
“I am pleased that the judge recognized the seriousness of this and he responded to the petition that was signed by the residents of Amity,” he said Friday. “He took it all very seriously.”