Sunday, July 27, 2014

Woman facing embezzlement charges indicted for theft in Maine

A new indictment accuses a former Winslow woman of stealing more than $11,000 in state welfare benefits over a six-year period that includes the time she allegedly embezzled money from a school sports team and a sports boosters’ club.

Wendi R. Willette, also known as Wendi Thompson, 41, now of Whitefield, N.H., was indicted Friday by a grand jury in Kennebec County on three counts of theft by deception, one count of aggravated forgery and five counts of unsworn falsification.

An indictment is not a determination of guilt, but it indicates that there is enough evidence to proceed with formal charges and a trial in Superior Court.

According to the indictment, Willette received more than $10,000 in food stamps and from MaineCare and the State Supplement Program between Dec. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2013. In her applications, she indicated she and her two sons were the only occupants of her China Road home and she had no income other than Social Security disability payments. She also is accused of providing false information to obtain assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The indictment says Willette intentionally failed to disclose that her husband was living at the home and contributing financially to the household.

It also says she filed a false 2011 property tax bill with the state on March 6, 2012.

Included with the indictment is an application for emergency assistance on March 12, 2013, in which Willette indicates a utility is about to be cut off.

In February, Willette was indicted on three charges of theft, which accuse her of stealing more than $10,000 from the Winslow Wrestling Booster Club between Sept. 1, 2010, and July 31, 2013; and of stealing money from the China girls’ field hockey team from Sept. 1 to 17, 2013. She pleaded not guilty to those charges at her arraignment in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Recently Willette was expected in that same court to accept a plea deal to resolve those charges. However, the hearing was continued. It is likely the new charges will derail that proposed resolution. Willette is represented by attorney Sherry Tash.

According to the district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting those charges, Willette was the club’s treasurer when she stole nearly $20,000 over three years. Willette has also been charged with stealing money from the China girls’ field hockey team, which she helped establish.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said previously that restitution was a key element of the deal.

“The agreement is to pay back a big part of the money up front and then to pay the rest over a period of time,” she said in early June. “For me, I wanted to make sure it put a big chunk of the money in their hands from the start so that it won’t affect the ability of the kids to play sports. That was a real focus for me.”

Neither Maloney nor Tash responded to emails or phone messages left on Sunday.

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