ROCKLAND, Maine — Michael Morrison, former spa manager of the Trade Winds Inn, was arrested last week and accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the hotel.
Morrison, 41, of Rockland was arrested Jan. 26 on a charge of theft by deception, a Class B felony, according to an affidavit filed in Knox County Unified Court. After being located and arrested in Belfast, Morrison was taken to the Waldo County Jail and was released later that day on $1,000 cash bail, according to jail officials.
Suspicion about the missing funds dates back to July 2016, when Aimee Liberty, president and general manager of the inn, called Rockland police to report Morrison’s alleged mishandling of the money at the inn’s spa and tanning center. Det. Sgt. Russell Thompson and the Rockland Police Department investigated.
Liberty told Thompson last summer that bills incurred by the health club portion of the inn “seemed high for what was normally purchased,” according to the affidavit. Liberty examined the spa’s expense reports and allegedly discovered that items Morrison ostensibly had bought online for the company turned out to be sports equipment such as girls’ hockey and softball gear.
According to the affidavit, Thompson culled through Morrison’s purchases and determined Morrison had used the company credit card to buy $19,125 worth of “gift cards, toys, grocery items, clothing, sporting equipment and other miscellaneous items” from Amazon between January 2014 and June 2016.
“A comparison of the spreadsheet Michael had provided to Aimee Liberty and the actual records from Amazon show [Morrison] had changed the item names on his spreadsheet to make it look like all purchases were for the health spa, when he was actually buying items for his home and family,” Thompson said in the affidavit.
Since 2010, a total of $128,189 has gone missing from the inn’s health club bank deposits, according to police. Additionally, a loss of $122,953 was incurred from overbilling paid to the health club by MaineCare. That aspect of the case is being investigated by the state attorney general’s office.
The Trade Winds, on Park Drive in downtown Rockland, has made headlines more than once in the past year, first with its appearance on the reality television show “Hotel Impossible” and then with the embezzlement investigation. The television show, which publicized the hotel’s state of dilapidation and disrepair, included extensive safety code violations and elicited sharp reactions from town officials when hotel staff sought a 30-day extension in October 2016 to fix those code violations.