ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Hancock woman convicted 10 years ago of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a local businessman and his family has been sent back to jail after she failed to keep up with restitution payments.
Julie L. Watson, 48, was ordered in 2003 to repay $500,000 to Charles Katsiaficas and his family. She had managed Katsiaficas’ Eagles Lodge Motel in Ellsworth for more than a decade and was estimated to have embezzled between $400,000 and $750,000 from the business prior to 2001. Watson also received an overall sentence of eight years with all but two and a half years suspended.
In March 2013, Hancock County District Attorney Carletta “Dee” Bassano filed a motion in Hancock County Superior Court to enforce payment, telling the court that Watson had not made any payments for more than two months and still owed the Katsiaficas family more than $450,000. Charles Katsiaficas died in 2009.
On Sept. 28, 2013, Watson was sent back to jail for 10 days for not meeting her mandated monthly restitution payments, according to court documents.
Bassano said Friday that Watson did make some payments this year after missing several last winter. The prosecutor said Watson has had trouble making restitution payments prior to this year, but this is the first time she has been sent back to jail over the issue.
At a recent court hearing, Watson said that substance abuse problems interfered with her ability to make payments.
Charles Helfrich, Watson’s defense attorney, declined to go into detail about why Watson missed payments, saying only that his client had health issues. He noted that Watson missed at least three months of payments and could have been sent back to jail for two months.
Helfrich said that when Watson gets out of jail, she will have to keep up with her mandated monthly payment schedule of $200 or 25 percent of her gross income, whichever is greater. He said her initial payments after she is released from jail likely will have to be 10 percent higher than normal, until she makes up for the months earlier this year that she missed.
Staying employed has been “an issue” for Watson, but she has good job prospects she intends to pursue after getting out of jail, he said.
At the time of her sentencing, officials and the Katsiaficas family said that Watson spent the stolen money on rented limousines, all-terrain vehicles, trips to Mexico and Georgia, jewelry, clothing, Gucci handbags, a Gucci watch, a Rolex watch, and a bridal gown and tuxedo for her wedding, which never happened. She also was accused of using the money to buy a $2,000 front door, a $800 porcelain sink and granite countertops for her house.