A criminal theft charge against a former Southwest Harbor town employee accused of embezzling more than $13,000 from the town has been dismissed as part of an out-of-court agreement, according to a prosecutor.
Tabbetha Newenham, the town’s former finance director, had been accused of embezzling more than $13,000 between June 2012 and April 2016, when she was still employed by the town. Newenham, 39, was accused of altering her payroll records to inflate her vacation accrual time.
Newenham and the town reached an agreement outside of court under which she will make a financial donation to the town, Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster and Newenham’s attorney, Anthony Trask of Bangor, said Thursday. A Class B felony theft charge that had been filed against Newenham in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court was dismissed on Oct. 30, according to court records. She will face no new charges in the matter.
Foster, whose office helped negotiate the resolution, said that there were some “proof issues” in the case that could have affected the evidence against Newenham in a trial. Without citing a figure, he said the restitution amount is not for the full sum of money Newenham was accused of taking, but that it is “satisfactory to all parties involved.”
Trask said the financial donation Newenham will make to the town is not restitution because his client has not been convicted of anything.
Newenham refused to negotiate a plea agreement because she is innocent, Trask said. Without citing a figure, he said the financial donation she is making to the town is a “a fraction” of what her court costs likely would have been to see the case through a trial.
“We remain confident that a trial would have resulted in an acquittal,” Trask said. “It is her hope that this gesture will alleviate any hard feelings with the town.”
Justin VanDongen, Southwest Harbor’s town manager, said that the town and Newenham had filed civil suits against each other over the alleged embezzlement, but those suits were dropped by each side in 2018. He declined further comment about the agreement that led to the dismissal of the criminal charge.
The accusations against Newenham did not arise until after she left her job in May 2016.
In March 2017, she filed a civil lawsuit against the town, alleging that it owed her a day’s salary and cash as compensation for more than 200 hours of vacation time that she had accrued but never used, according to the Mount Desert Islander newspaper. The town then filed a countersuit against Newenham, accusing her of fraud. She was indicted on the felony theft charge in October 2018.
If convicted of a Class B crime, Newenham would have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.