Lisa Stottler will have 23 months to pay Burlington Homes and the insurance carrier

PARIS – A former employee of Burlington Homes was ordered by a judge Tuesday to pay $21,000 in restitution to Burlington Homes and their insurers as part of a plea agreement in an embezzlement case.

Lisa M. Stottler, 36, of Turner entered a plea of nolo contendre, or no contest, in Oxford County Superior Court to two counts of Class B theft, and the judge found her guilty of the charges. Along with having to pay the restitution, Stottler received a suspended sentence of 364 days, with one year’s probation.

When she was indicted last October, the felony theft charge alleged Stottler embezzled more than $10,000 from the company on Route 26 in Oxford. Under the plea agreement, however, the state agreed to enter a less serious theft charge and not ask for any jail time, as long as the money was repaid.

“We felt confident that we could have proved the case had it gone to trial,” said Richard Beauchesne, the county’s assistant district attorney, on Wednesday.

Stottler will have 23 months to pay Burlington Homes $8,500, and to pay $12,500 to the company’s insurance carrier, Peerless Insurance. The company claimed Stottler took $12,500, and the company had to pay accountant Roger Fortin $8,500 to conduct a financial review in preparing the case for the state.

On Wednesday, Stottler maintained her innocence, saying she pleaded no contest because of the uncertain outcome of a jury trial. She said she has two children and didn’t want to risk having to serve any jail time if a jury found her guilty.

“I am absolutely saying I am not guilty of the charges, but I had no option but to plead (nolo), because I was looking at 20 years versus $20,000,” Stottler said.

Stottler, who worked for six years as the mobile home manufacturer’s office manager, said the embezzlement charges were fabricated after she left the company in July of 2002 to work for a competitor, KBS Building Systems of Paris, at higher pay.

“They were furious I went to work for (KBS)” and wanted to punish her, Stottler said.

Absolutely not true, said Burlington Homes President Theresa Desfosses, one of nine owners of the company.

“We have evidence that pretty clearly indicates that she took the money,” Desfosses said. “The fact that she pleaded no contest when we got to trial says something.”

She added, “I am not a vengeful person. I would never ruin anyone’s reputation by accusing them of something like that,” she said.

Based on an investigation by Oxford police Sgt. Jon Tibbetts, the state maintained that Stottler redirected money to herself in transactions involving petty cash checks and deposits dating to August of 2000.

“It could never happen,” said Stottler. In every transaction she handled, “I needed backup” in the form of approval or signature of Desfosses or company Production Manager Donald Chadwell. Charges that she took “excessive vacation time” were also false, she said.

Beauchesne was prepared to offer expert testimony from Fortin to prove the case. He said he never was seeking jail time, and made that clear right up until the last moment to Stottler’s lawyer, Walter McKee.

“The outstanding offer all along had been to pay the money back, and offer her a suspended sentence,” he said.

A mandatory condition of Stottler’s probation is that she remain employed. Stottler said she left KBS Building Systems two weeks ago, and hasn’t yet found another job.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.