Imprisoned official seeks house arrest

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NORWAY – A former town official who was ordered to serve two years in prison for stealing more than $117,000 in municipal money has applied to serve out the rest of her term under house arrest.

Town manager David Holt told selectmen of the request at Thursday night’s meeting. A letter from Tessa L. Mosher, a victim services advocate with the Maine Department of Corrections in Augusta, asks that Holt complete an impact-statement form to assist the department in its decision.

No action was taken by the board.

“I now feel that it’s time to move on,” Holt said.

Deborah Wyman, 52, served as the town’s community development director beginning in 1986, and was responsible for overseeing more than $5 million in Community Development Block Grants. An audit revealed that she had made 176 illegal transactions between 1992 and 2005 that funneled a total of $117,592 into her personal bank account.

The town also spent about $30,000 on the investigation.

In September, Wyman was ordered by Superior Court Justice Robert Crowley to serve two years out of a 10-year prison sentence and pay the town up to $10,000 during a three-year probationary period. Crowley also ordered that she sell a Cadillac, a boat and a piece of real estate in Waterford to repay the town. A $2,500 bail bond posted by Wyman was given to Norway.

Wyman has sold the boat and car, both of which brought about $5,000 to the town.

According to the terms of the “supervised community confinement program” for which Wyman has applied, a prisoner must serve at least two-thirds of a prison term or nine months, whichever is greater, to qualify for the program. Under those terms, Wyman would have been able to meet the conditions last month.

The letter, dated July 3, states that the program allows prisoners to return to the community and be employed, with 25 percent of their income deducted to pay victim restitution. Mosher states that the program “is cost efficient and will save the taxpayers dollars that can be reinvested in other worthwhile initiatives.”

However, participants will still be considered prisoners and subject to 21 mandatory conditions. Wyman would have to be electronically monitored and responsible for the costs associated with such a precaution. Prisoners are also subject to travel restrictions and random searches.

Wyman served as the director of the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce, manager of Norway Downtown Revitalization, owner of a pet grooming business, co-owner of the former Trolley House Food and Spirits, and an employee with Community Concepts before becoming community development director.

Prior to her sentencing, she was offered a job working with Manchester Property Management, a Gray agency run by former Norway Police Chief Cathleen Manchester.

Wyman came under suspicion of theft in January of last year after the town noted financial inconsistencies in its budget. A warrant was issued for her arrest in March 2006.

Town attorney Daniel J. Mithcel said in December that the Maine Municipal Association, which insures the town, would reimburse Norway for $100,000 of the missing funds as well as $10,000 in legal fees. With Wyman’s initial contributions, the town was still out about $10,000.

Edward Dilworth III, Wyman’s lawyer, said Wyman intends to pay back all the money she stole.

Norway Police Chief Robert Federico said the letter regarding the application for house arrest was initially sent to him, although it was addressed to the town manager. He said he forwarded it to Holt without reading it.

Federico said he did not have any strong feelings on the subject.

“If she’s completed the program and she’s eligible for it, it would be up to [the Department of Corrections] to decide whether to allow it or not,” he said. “My job’s over with.”

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