Former Maine Tourism Association employee pleads guilty to felony theft

Posted May 13, 2014, at 7:48 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former Maine Tourism Association employee pleaded guilty Tuesday to Class B felony theft by unauthorized taking in connection with the theft of $127,000 from the organization, according to Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney.

Ronald Brann, 44, who lived in New Gloucester at the time of the thefts but now lives in West Gardiner, entered his plea during a hearing at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

“The agreed upon sentence was put on the record,” Maloney said.

The proposal calls for a five-year sentence with all but one year and 200 days suspended to be followed by three years of probation, she said.

“The state agrees that if he pays $10,000 toward the restitution of $127,000 in the next 60 days, then the 200 days will be dropped and he will serve the one year,” she added. “At the sentencing hearing in 60 days, the judge will be deciding how much of the economic loss the defendant has the ability to pay.”

A complaint filed in January by the Kennebec County district attorney’s office alleged that between July 2010 and July 2012, Brann stole at least $10,000 from the organization and used the money for his own purposes. Although the total amount police believe he stole was not released at that time, Maloney said Tuesday that $127,000 was taken.

Brann was employed for about two years with the Maine Tourism Association as human resources and finance manager, Vaughn Stinson, CEO of the group, said earlier.

Brann left the organization for another job about two months before the thefts were discovered, according to Stinson.

In a letter sent to association members, Stinson explained the situation and assured them that no membership information was compromised in the thefts, just the money.

The thefts were uncovered in late 2012 after an employee noticed a discrepancy in a credit card charge, Stinson said in January. He said he immediately brought news of the irregularity to the organization’s board and attorney and commissioned a full forensic audit of the association’s financial records.

“This former employee was able to circumvent security safeguards that we had in place at the time,” Stinson wrote in his letter. “Those safeguards have been upgraded and will continue to be monitored.”

Stinson declined to say what these new security procedures were, but said the association collaborated with an accounting firm to put them in place.

The association recouped most of the stolen money through its insurance coverage, according to Stinson. The organization’s total budget last year was about $2.1 million.

The Maine Tourism Association is a nonprofit group that operates the state’s visitor information centers and produces the state’s official travel guide for worldwide distribution.

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