Friday, March 7, 2014
AUGUSTA — A former top administrator at the Maine Tourism Association allegedly stole money from that group to pay his home mortgage.
Ronald G. Brann, 44, of New Gloucester, who was the association’s finance and human resources director for two years before resigning in July 2012, is charged with theft of more than $10,000 from the group. Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the amount embezzled was substantially more than $10,000.
However, neither she nor an affidavit filed recently with the case in Kennebec County Superior Court have named a specific figure for the amount of money the Hallowell-based association says is missing.
The affidavit by Hallowell Police Chief Eric Nason says Brann stole the money between July 1, 2010, and July 30, 2012, while employed by the association.
Nason said interviews with the association’s chief executive officer, Vaughn Stinson, indicate Brann had access to all of the bank accounts, operating money and credit card and was responsible for processing payroll as well as a number of other things.
Nason said the group had an audit performed by Austin Associates which reported, “Many unauthorized expenditures of funds were made by issuing electronic checks and electronic funds transfers from MTA accounts,” including payments in excess of $10,000 to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Records of the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds show that Wells Fargo Bank NA has held a series of mortgages for the Colebrook Road, New Gloucester, property owned by Ronald G. and Jessica S. Brann, most recently in October 2010 for $155,420. According to Zillow.com, a real estate site, the house at Brann’s address is a 964-square-foot, two-bedroom house on two acres. A West Gardiner address was also listed for Brann, but more recent court records indicate his current address is New Gloucester.
Nason also says that Brann “acknowledged that while employed by MTA he had taken substantially more than $10,000 of funds from MTA without authorization and for his own purposes, that those funds included mortgage payments for this home.”
Brann and his attorney Justin Leary attended a brief hearing Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court on the theft charge, and the case was continued. Brann remains free on $2,500 unsecured bail and is supervised by the Maine Pretrial Services program.
On Wednesday, Leary said he had not discussed the state’s allegation about the mortgage payments with his client.
“We’re just waiting,” Leary said. “I don’t have lot in the way of police reports at this point.”
According to information the nonprofit Maine Tourism Association reported to the IRS for July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, some $886,470 of its $2.1 million budget comes from the State of Maine and almost $700,000 from publishing revenue.
“The association’s primary mission is to provide visitors and residents with tourism information, develop travel and tourism in Maine and disclose other opportunities in Maine,” the document says.
In a recent letter to the association’s 1,600 members, Stinson said the association recouped most of its losses through insurance.
In July 2012, Brann began work as adult and community education director for Maine School Administrative District 15, and remained employed in that capacity as of last week. SAD 15 serves Gray and New Gloucester.Betty Adams — email@example.comTwitter: @betadams