Prosecutor reviewing findings in investigation of missing funds in Wesley

Posted June 04, 2014, at 12:33 p.m.
Last modified June 04, 2014, at 2:46 p.m.
Carletta &quotDee" Bassano
Carletta "Dee" Bassano

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A “painstaking” review of the investigation into missing funds for the town of Wesley is in progress, District Attorney Carletta Bassano said Wednesday.

“It’s under investigation,” said Bassano. “It’s in my office. It’s being worked. That’s the status of it.”

Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith and a deputy, Lt. Travis Willey, briefed Wesley residents on the status of the probe prior to the town’s annual meeting Monday night.

Willey met with Bassano in Machias in December to brief her on the outcome of his investigation, and later that month he provided her office with the information he had gathered, said Willey. However, his office has heard nothing from Bassano since then, Smith said.

Smith, Willey and many Wesley residents expressed frustration over the investigation and the lack of a response from Bassano’s office during the meeting Monday evening.

Embezzlement cases, particularly involving local governments, require very thorough scrutiny and analysis, Bassano said. “It’s painstaking work to go through these…So that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Bassano disputed when the case was turned over to her office by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, although she declined to engage in any sniping with Smith.

“I’m not going to trade allegations with the sheriff’s department,”said Bassano. “That’s not productive.” Her office received the case report near the end of February, she said.

The district attorney could not say when her office would be in a position to decide if it would move forward with prosecution or not.

“I just can’t speculate on that,” Bassano said.

Willey began his probe in June 2013 after an auditor reported the town was missing $44,000.

Wesley residents voted at the annual town meeting a year ago to ratify that $44,000 was missing to account for the missing funds in an annual audit. They also voted to continue with an investigation.

Smith sent an email to Bassano’s office apprising her of the town meeting and briefing session and suggesting she attend, he said Monday night. He received no response, he said.

“It’s frustrating to us,” Smith told the gathering.

Willey’s investigation produced “a good case…a strong case,” Smith said.

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