Mechanic Falls man pleads guilty to stealing from nonprofit group with his wife

Posted March 30, 2013, at 6:22 a.m.
Last modified March 30, 2013, at 6:46 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — A Mechanic Falls man whose wife was convicted earlier this month of stealing thousands of dollars from an area nonprofit organization that serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities pleaded guilty Friday to theft from the same group.

Michael Arsenault, 43, agreed to plead to a felony theft charge which, if he steers clear of the law for a year, will be changed to a misdemeanor charge. He will also pay a $300 fine.

Arsenault is owner of J&M Property Maintenance. A prosecutor at the Maine attorney general’s office said Friday in Androscoggin County Superior Court that his company presented invoices to John F. Murphy Homes Inc. and was paid more than $3,000 for work that was never done.

His wife, Terri Arsenault, 40, pleaded guilty to two felony theft charges. She faces up to nine months in jail at her sentencing, which is set for next month.

She diverted money to herself from the organization by misusing a commercial credit card and took money from the trust account of a resident at one of the three homes in Mechanic Falls where she served as administrator.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Miller said Friday that had Michael Arsenault’s case gone to trial, she would have presented evidence that during the late fall of 2008, he and his wife were the targets of an investigation into possible theft.

That investigation revealed that from June 2007 through August 2008, J&M Property Maintenance had sent invoices to the agency for work done at the three homes where his wife served as administrator, Miller said. An invoice for $1,242 to paint trim, rebuild steps and replace an outer door at the Maple Street home was paid, but the work wasn’t done, Miller said.

An invoice submitted in March 2008 for $849.03 to replace a shed roof and wall at the North Main Street home was paid, but the work was never done, Miller said.

Arsenault endorsed a June 25, 2008, check for $738 to replace doors at homes at Maple Street and Marshall Street, but they were never replaced, Miller said.

Arsenault also had been paid double for some snowplowing he did at the homes.

A judge ordered Arsenault to pay a total of $3,705 in restitution to the organization. He told the judge a check covering that amount was given to his wife’s attorney to reimburse the nonprofit group.

Miller said Terri Arsenault submitted the invoices to her employer to be paid to her husband’s company.

Arsenault’s attorney, Leonard Sharon, said that had the case gone to trial, his client would have presented evidence that Arsenault wasn’t aware that his wife had submitted the invoices and knew nothing about the payments made to his company.

But “a jury might conclude that it isn’t reasonable to believe that Michael was blind to his wife’s deeds,” Sharon said after the hearing. After weighing the strengths and weaknesses of his case, he and his client decided that the prosecutor’s offer was “eminently fair in light of conclusions that a jury might draw.”

 

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