SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Former town employee Tabbetha Newenham, 37, was indicted by a Hancock County grand jury Oct. 4 on one count of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer from the town.
Newenham was served with a criminal summons in the spring of 2017, according to her attorney Anthony A. Trask of the law firm Rudman Winchell. An investigation conducted by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the town in 2016 built a case the county’s district attorney then presented to the grand jury, according to Trask.
Newenham was employed by the town from 2009 to 2016 as deputy clerk, among other roles. Her responsibilities included keeping records for town employees regarding payroll and vacation accrual time.
In February 2016, Newenham submitted her resignation with an offer to work until May of that year. In April, Town Manager Don Lagrange dismissed her from the position because he had found a replacement. The town agreed to pay Newenham wages through to her May end date.
At the request of the town, an investigation into Newenham’s records was launched by the sheriff’s office in the summer of 2016, when she was no longer a town employee.
As a result of that investigation, Newenham was charged with Class B felony theft in May 2017. The sheriff’s office alleges that Newenham altered her vacation accrual time during her employment with the town.
The recent indictment states that the Class B theft occurred between June 24, 2012 and April 30, 2016. Class B felonies can include a sentence of up to ten years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.
In March 2017, Newenham had filed a civil claim against the town citing unpaid wages and vacation time. The personnel policy in Southwest Harbor states that employees will be paid for all unused vacation time upon leaving their job.
In response to Newenham’s civil claim, the town filed a civil complaint against Newenham in April 2017 accusing her of fraud and other violations. The town sought $13,000 in the complaint, claiming that amount as proper compensation for the alleged fraud and other violations.
Both civil claims have since been dropped, Trask said.
“While Ms. Newenham had been served with a criminal summons in the spring of 2017, neither she nor her attorneys were aware the case was presented to the grand jury until after it occurred,” Trask wrote in an email to the Islander. “Ms. Newenham vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend herself against these unjust allegations.
“The resolution of the competing civil actions was completely unrelated to the pending criminal matter,” he continued, “inasmuch as the criminal case is in the hands of the Hancock County District Attorney.”