SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Police have charged a former town office employee with Class B theft for allegedly altering her payroll records.
Tabbetha Newenham, 36, was summonsed on the charge Wednesday by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
Newenham was employed by the town from 2009 to 2016; during her tenure, she served as deputy clerk, deputy tax collector, deputy treasurer, water-sewer administrator and associate finance director. Her duties included keeping the payroll and vacation accrual records of town employees.
Newenham is accused of manipulating her vacation accrual time to add time that she had not earned and without authorization. Vacation time for town employees is accrued at a rate based on the number of years an employee has worked for the town.
Chief Deputy Pat Kane said he began the investigation last summer at the request town officials. Newenham last worked for Southwest Harbor in April 2016. The charge follows his investigation into town records.
“That’s why it took so long,” Kane said. “There were a lot of documents, and analysis to be done on them.”
Kane declined to release more information on the case at this time. He would say only that the amount Newenham is accused of stealing is greater than $10,000, which is the lower threshold for a Class B felony theft charge.
However, a civil complaint filed by the town against Newenham on April 18 in Hancock County Superior Court puts the amount at $13,000. The complaint, which accuses Newenham of fraud and other violations, states the town did not know about her manipulation of vacation until after she was no longer employed.
Newenham submitted her resignation on Feb. 12, 2016, effective May 2. However, Town Manager Don Lagrange notified her in early April that he had found a replacement and she was no longer needed. She was told she would be paid through May 2, her last scheduled day of work. The town’s personnel policy states that employees will be paid for all unused vacation time upon leaving their job.
On March 8, Newenham filed a complaint against the town alleging she had not been paid for one day’s salary and for 203 hours of unused vacation time. Her complaint alleges she sent two letters to the town demanding payment and got no response.
The town’s attorneys admit the town mistakenly did not pay Newenham for one eight-hour day but denies that the town received the letters demanding payment.
No dates have been scheduled for hearings on the civil cases. Newenham is to make her initial appearance in court on the theft charge on Aug. 8.
If convicted of Class B theft, Newenham faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.