AUGUSTA, Maine — A Winslow woman has been accused of stealing between $24,000 and $35,000 from a high school sports fund over the course of nearly three years.
Wendi R. Willette, 41, was summoned by Winslow police Friday on two counts of theft by unauthorized taking. One count is a Class B charge and the other is a Class C charge, both felonies.
Willette, who was the treasurer of Winslow High School’s Wrestling Booster Club until July, stole money from the fund she oversaw between Sept. 1, 2010, and July 31, 2013, according to the complaint filed Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said she could not disclose the exact amount of money that was stolen. The Class B charge Willette faces is based on the value of the property being more than $10,000.
Winslow High head wrestling coach Kevin Fredette said the amount is between $24,000 and $35,000, based on his estimates of the fundraising events the group has held and subsequent expenditures.
If convicted of the Class B charge, Willette faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. The Class C charge carries up to a five-year prison sentence and up to a $5,000 fine and is based on Willette having a criminal history.
If convicted on both charges, she only can be sentenced on one of them, said Maloney.
Willette’s history includes convictions for two Class E misdemeanor charges of negotiating a worthless instrument. She was convicted in Augusta District Court Dec. 10, 2003, and April 21, 2004.
The wrestling team had been saving money for several years in order to buy new wrestling mats, according to Fredette. The mats are $10,000 apiece, he said.
Fredette, who was the treasurer until he became the coach six years ago, said there was $8,000 in the account when he gave up the post.
“She became treasurer three years ago,” he said, referring to Willette, noting that only $54 is left in the bank account — just enough to keep the account open.
Fredette’s wife, Carol, who is a member of the booster club, said Willette’s name was the only one on the bank account, which is why other boosters did not know how much money was in it. Members of the boosters became suspicious when Willette didn’t show up for meetings and came up with excuses why she couldn’t provide the checkbook, Fredette said.
Willette was voted out as treasurer in July and that’s when the missing money was discovered, according to Carol Fredette.
The missing money comes as a huge blow to the wrestling team, which struggled for years, Kevin Fredette said.
For the first time in six years, the team planned to attend the state’s biggest wrestling tournament at Noble High School in North Berwick, he said. The team has wrestlers in every weight class with at least one year of varsity experience.
Thanks to donations from several sources, including a $1,500 donation from Bangor Savings Bank, the team will likely make the two-day trip, he said.
Carol Fredette said she’s grateful for the support.
The boosters are holding a Nov. 2 hunter’s breakfast fundraiser at the Winslow Fire Station.
“We start over [with the account],” said Kevin Fredette. “What’s done is done, and we’ll move on and hope for the best.”
Willette is due in Kennebec County Superior Court on Nov. 5.