May 27, 2018
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Bangor woman to serve 9 months for stealing donations from health care charities

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A former employee of the charitable arm of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems was sentenced Thursday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to four years in prison with all but nine months suspended.

Laurena Cunningham, 47, of Bangor also was ordered to pay $56,495 in restitution, according to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office.

In addition to jail time, Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered Cunningham to begin serving her sentence immediately at the Penobscot County Jail and to be on probation for three years after she completes her jail term, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said late Thursday.

Cunningham has paid $11,000 toward restitution, the prosecutor said.

She pleaded guilty to Class B theft last month.

Roberts said Thursday that because Cunningham never spoke with police, it was unclear what she spent the stolen money on.

“There’s no indication it was anything extravagant,” he said.

Michael Crowley, president and chief philanthropy officer of Healthcare Charities and Cunningham’s former boss, did address the court, Robert said.

“He spoke about her breach of trust and all the good the charities do,” the prosecutor said. “Mr. Crowley told the judge that the theft might have prevented someone from getting the help they needed.”

Cunningham was indicted in June by the Penobscot County grand jury on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking for stealing the money from Healthcare Charities, according to a previously published report.

She was responsible for handing off donations to a courier who deposited the money in the bank, Roberts said in June. She skimmed off cash donations and made up the difference with check donations she held back from earlier deposits, he said at the time of Cunningham’s indictment.

“By basically juggling checks over a period of time, she was able to keep this going,” Roberts said when Cunningham was indicted.

The nonprofit determined that more than $56,000 in donated funds were diverted between November 2011 and March 2012, according to a press release issued by EMHS in June. The release did not identify Cunningham by name.

Cunningham worked for several years in a clerical position at the Bangor office of Healthcare Charities, which discovered the missing funds in early March through a regular accounting review, according to a previous report.

She faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to twice the stolen amount, according to Roberts.

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