Monday, December 9, 2013
WINSLOW — An officer for the Winslow High School Wrestling Boosters Club is charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the club.
Wendi Willette, 41, of Winslow, the club's treasurer, was summoned today on two alternative felony counts of theft, according to Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Somerset and Kennebec counties.
"We believe she has stolen over $10,000 and possible as much as $30,000," Jeff Fenlason, chief of the Winslow Police Department, wrote in an email.
According to Fenlason, a month-long police investigation by Detective Gina Henderson was opened after other booster club members reported they suspected Willette had stolen the money.
Carol Fredette, a member of the booster club whose husband coaches the team, wrote in an email that the loss of money will have a dramatic impact on the club, and the wrestling team it supports.
"We, my husband and I, have literally cried because of this for days," she wrote.
One senior who has excelled in the program will be denied the opportunity to participate in a regional New England tournament because, she wrote, the club has been left without money.
"When you win at certain tourneys it gives you a boost and maybe even a chance at a scholarship," she wrote. "He already has some interest in him, but he needs to get here first and we can't get him there."
The alternative felony charges allow Willette to be prosecuted under two different theories of her guilt, Maloney said. She can be found guilty under either theft charge, but she can only be sentenced for one.
The first charge is a class B theft, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Maloney would not specify how much money had been stolen, but that charge applies only to those who have stolen $10,000 or more.
The second charge is a class C theft, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. That charge is based not on the amount stolen, but on the allegation that the theft was committed with the intent to deprive the booster club of property.
Willette was convicted of negotiating a worthless instrument, a misdemeanor that typically describes passing bad checks, in December 2003 and again in April 2004 in Kennebec County Superior Court, according to Maloney.
She said that the prior convictions allowed the second of the current charges against her to be elevated to a felony.
"I have two counts based on two different theories," Maloney said. "One is based on the amount and the other is based on prior criminal history."
Attempts to contact Willette were unsuccessful.
Willette was arrested by Winslow police on Sept. 23, but she was released after Maloney requested more information to assess what charge would be most appropriate, Maloney said.
She received a full report from the Winslow police on Sept. 27, which led to today's decision to charge Willette, Maloney said.
Willette's court date is Nov. 5, Maloney said.
A call left with Fredette was not immediately returned.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287