Bath man pleads guilty to embezzling $59,000 from contractor

Posted June 20, 2012, at 11:12 p.m.

WEST BATH, Maine — A Bath man who embezzled more than $59,000 from a local excavating contractor will spend at least one year in jail and will have to pay back the money he took.

According to Sagadahoc County Superior Court documents, Dale Marshall, 57, of 57 Court St. in Bath entered a guilty plea on May 10 to the charge of Class B theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. Marshall was sentenced to five years in jail, with all but one year suspended and three years of probation. If he violates the terms of his probation, Marshall could be returned to jail.

The court also ordered Marshall to pay restitution of $62,075.26 to J.R. Hill and Sons Inc. Court records indicate that the first payment was due June 15.

As conditions of probation, Marshall is prohibited from having any contact with Stephanie and Jamie Hill, owners of J.R. Hill and Sons, located on State Road in West Bath. He also is prohibited from gambling or entering any American Legion.

The Sagadahoc County Sheriff ’s Department charged Marshall with Class B felony theft on Nov. 8, 2011, following an investigation that determined Marshall had embezzled a total of $59,052 from his former employer, J.R. Hill and Sons Inc., by taking money the family-owned business had earmarked for payments to vendors.

In November, the sheriff’s department said Marshall went to their offices on Sept. 26, 2011, to confess to investigators that he’d been embezzling from J.R. Hill and Sons since 2007.

Stephanie Hill, the wife of Jamie Hill, president and owner of the company founded in 1970, told The Times Record in November that her husband fired Marshall for not performing his duties as office manager just prior to his confession to police.

After Marshall left the company, Stephanie Hill, filling in as office manager, discovered in the check register a check made out to Marshall for $500, which wasn’t what his paycheck should have been. She contacted Marshall about the check.

The following Monday morning, he confessed at the sheriff’s office and the Hills soon received a call from the sheriff’s office informing them of Marshall’s confession. Upon learning the scope of the embezzlement, Stephanie Hill told The Times Record in the phone interview that the couple was “blown out of the water.”

Marshall allegedly told a Sagadahoc detective that in most instances he took money by writing checks to himself through the company’s QuickBooks checking program, printed the checks and then went back into the program and replaced his name on the check with the name of a vendor. He then backdated the check. He also reportedly destroyed copies of the cashed checks sent from the bank.

In a crime impact statement to the judge dated May 10, Jamie and Stephanie Hill wrote, “We have been assaulted professionally, personally and even emotionally as we struggle to regain our footing. Through the course of the last couple of years, we have been unable to pay bills that we made plenty of money to cover. We lost business contracts and weren’t even aware Dale Marshall stole money from us, but it doesn’t end there.

“This theft has had a snowball effect,” they wrote. “Not only is the money gone, but the bills it was supposed to have paid are still due. The relationships with our vendors and business associations that we spent years building have been shattered. Accounts that we’ve had for over 30 years were closed. Resources were lost.”

As a result of Marshall’s embezzlement, the Hills were forced to sell equipment needed for their business, cancel their health insurance and sell a rental property at a significant loss, according to the impact statement. They had to dismiss employees, which Stephanie wrote required her husband to work long hours and triggered a high level of stress on their children and family life. She was forced to return to the business to manage the office and “help my husband put the pieces back together,” which also pulled her away from their children.

“Everything my husband has spent his life working for hangs precariously in the balance,” wrote Stephanie Hill. “We have used savings and all other resources we worked for just to remain in business, and we aren’t out of the dark yet.”

See more from the Times Record at timesrecord.com.

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