Danforth considers next steps after town funds discovered missing

3 years ago

DANFORTH, Maine — The Danforth Board of Selectmen is weighing its next steps on how to proceed in the case of the town’s missing $100,000.

The town told the public about the missing funds for the first time in October during a special town meeting. But the town had initially discovered that the funds were missing in 2017, according to a public statement issued by the town. The missing funds dated from between 2014 and 2016.

Although the town’s insurance policy covered a portion of the missing funds, the town was still facing a loss of $85,000. It later managed to seek coverage under an additional insurance policy, resulting in another $25,000 reimbursement, still leaving the town out $60,000. 

“This has been a very challenging issue for the town,” Danforth Town Manager Ardis Brown said. “We have been doing everything we can with available resources to address the matter and recoup funds for the town as much as possible. We take this issue very seriously, and we will continue to do so.” 

After an investigation, the town determined that a portion of the funds were covered by its insurance policy under employee wrongdoing, but said that any suspected employees were no longer working with the town at the time the money was discovered to be missing. The town initially reported the missing funds to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and the matter was also referred to the District Attorney’s Office.

 In 2019, the District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case, citing a lack of evidence. In September of last year, the decision not to prosecute was reaffirmed. That led to the special town meeting last October, where both residents and town officials expressed frustration about the missing funds and lack of prosecution. Many also expressed frustration because the town had to fund its own investigation.

Some of the options that selectmen discussed on Feb. 4 included authorizing a forensic review of town records, and consultation with other law enforcement agencies such as the Office of the Maine Attorney General. At the end of the meeting, the selectmen directed the town manager to consult with the town attorney to present further recommendations on steps the town could take. 

The board also thanked the current town manager and staff for their internal investigation. The selectmen also expressed gratitude to the residents of Danforth, saying the board planned to provide further updates on the issue.