AUGUSTA — The former treasurer of Hallowell’s Gaslight Theater pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing thousands of dollars from the community theater organization.

Travis J. Burnham, 24, of Lewiston, pleaded guilty to a Class C felony theft charge in court Tuesday, with a plea agreement requiring he make $5,000 in restitution payments by early April.

If he meets that requirement, he’d be sentenced to three years imprisonment but with all but 10 days suspended, meaning he’d spend 10 days in jail if he complies with the terms of his two-year probation. If he does not pay the restitution in time, his sentence would be four years imprisonment with all but 30 days of that suspended.

Burnham told Justice William Stokes he had $2,000 he was ready to pay in restitution Tuesday.

His sentence also includes 50 hours of community service, two years probation and a requirement he have no contact with the Gaslight Theater nonprofit organization.

A total of about $10,000 in theater funds went missing, according to Richard Bostwick, general manager of the theater. He said none of it was recovered and Burnham had not yet paid any back.

Burnham was the treasurer of Gaslight Theater, Maine’s oldest continuously running community theater. He also had directed and appeared in plays for the theater, which performs plays in the upstairs theater at Hallowell City Hall. He and Bostwick were the only people with access to a debit card for the theater’s account at Camden National Bank.

Burnham used the card for personal use, and more than $7,100 went missing, according to prosecutor Tracy McCarthy, an assistant district attorney. McCarthy said Burnham also failed to make $3,600 in deposits.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Bostwick said Burnham’s theft “wiped out our cushion of comfort” but the theater still had funds in a certificate of deposit which wasn’t accessible via the debit card, so it didn’t lose all its funds.

Bostwick, speaking for the theater’s board in a victim impact statement filed with the court, wrote that Burnham betrayed their trust, adversely impacted the theater’s financial credibility, harmed its reputation and created a financial hardship for the theater. He wrote that Gaslight had to pull back some of its activities, including sponsorship of community events, because it could not afford its up-front costs.

But the theft, he wrote, also took an emotional toll.

“The general betrayal of a close-knit volunteer group was hard to swallow and overcome,” Bostwick wrote to the court.

He said Burnham did not apologize to theater officials, or offer an explanation for why he took the money.

However, he said, the theater’s board saw no need for a more punitive sentence as long as the theater is reimbursed.

“The board was disappointed with Mr. Burnham as he betrayed our trust,” Bostwick wrote, “but acknowledges that during his tenure with the board, he was an engaged and active member and provided good theatrical and production support.”

Burnham was on the theater’s board for about a year-and-a-half and was elected to the position of treasurer.

The theft was discovered in January 2019 after a branch manager of Camden National Bank reported inconsistencies in the account to Bostwick, who reported it to Hallowell Police, according to McCarthy.

Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason said Burnham took responsibility for his actions and cooperated fully with the investigation.

The theft charge is a Class C felony because it involved more than $1,000.


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