AUBURN — Accused of bilking a dozen people out of more than $150,000, Tanya Boutelle on Thursday was ordered to spend five years in prison.

Two of Boutelle’s victims were in Androscoggin County Superior Court to have their say as the sentence was handed down.

“I took pride in being an honest and forthright and caring person,” said Mona Guertin, who was 85 when Boutelle, 54, bilked her out of roughly $40,000 through various deceptions. “All of that was disrespected by Tanya Boutelle.”

James Dugan described how Boutelle conned him out of $900 by claiming that she was broke and hungry and needed help.

“You not only stole money from me, you stole money from my children,” Dugan said. “You took advantage of people with good natures and destroyed them financially.”

Dugan, who described Boutelle as “a predator,” asked Justice William Stokes to send her to prison for the maximum sentence allowed.

Boutelle was indicted in September on three counts of theft and one of tampering with a victim. The latter charge was dropped Friday in exchange for Boutelle pleading guilty to the theft charges.

She was sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but five suspended. She was also ordered to repay roughly $144,000 to her victims.

“You didn’t just steal money from people,” Justice Stokes said. “You stole their sense of goodness, their trust in people. That can never be replaced.”

In addition to scamming people out of money, Boutelle admitted to defrauding a government welfare program of nearly $4,000 by lying about her income.

Boutelle, dressed in a tan jail uniform, showed little emotion as her victims spoke and as Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell described her crimes. But as Stokes addressed her directly and handed down the sentence, she wiped tears from her face with a shirt sleeve.

In response, Boutelle addressed the court in a statement read by her attorney, Matthew Mastrogiacomo. She had become addicted to drugs, according to the statement, after years of domestic abuse left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I know what I did was wrong,” she said in the statement, “and I’m very sorry.”

Investigators said that since 2014, Boutelle had established relationships with her victims, creating scenarios in which she would need to borrow money, according to a statement from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

In one scam, Boutelle claimed her dog needed emergency surgery, convincing a woman to turn over thousands of dollars. In others, she claimed she was homeless and hungry.

The DHHS Fraud and Recovery Unit began investigating Boutelle for possible welfare fraud. Investigators found she failed to report her income to the state and had received nearly $4,000 she wasn’t entitled to collect, DHHS said.

When that agency collaborated with the department’s Office of Aging and Disability Services and the Financial Abuse Specialist Team, investigators, law enforcement officers and prosecutors discovered the other theft victims, who ranged in age from 53 to 86.

According to the indictment, Boutelle would create the impression that she was coming into money through a settlement or real estate sale and that, after borrowing money against those forthcoming assets, she would be able to repay the lender’s money through the proceeds of the settlement or sale. She would tell the lenders that she considered the money a loan and would repay it, though she knew otherwise.

Boutelle also admitted to stealing silver coins worth more than $1,000 from Guertin, who had taken Boutelle into her home. When Boutelle was a child, Guertin had been her school teacher, according to testimony. Boutelle began conning the former teacher after the two met recently at a church fair.

Guertin, who deemed her experiences with Boutelle “a nightmare,” said she remains angry, but that she hopes Boutelle will turn her life around.

“What do I want for Tanya?” Guertin said. “That she redeems herself while in custody.”

Boutelle’s sentence will be followed by five years of probation, during which she will be prohibited from taking drugs or using alcohol and from accepting checks from private citizens.

Tanya Boutelle
Tanya Boutelle

Tanya Boutelle

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