News Feature

Blue Hill
Web exclusive, March 15, 2018
Former Blue Hill treasurer charged with theft of town funds

Charges levied against former Blue Hill town treasurer

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office has levied charges against a former Blue Hill town treasurer for allegedly taking nearly $18,000 from the town coffers.

Penobscot Bay Press file photo

by Anne Berleant

A three month investigation by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has ended in former Town of Blue Hill treasurer Jody Murphy, 38, being charged with allegedly stealing $17,960 in town funds. She was summonsed on March 13 on one count of Class B theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and will be arraigned in Hancock County Unified Court April 3.

Detective Stephen McFarland of the sheriff’s office was in charge of the investigation.

“The paper trail led directly to her,” he said on March 15 after meeting with Selectman Jim Schatz.

Murphy was scheduled for a March 12 interview at the sheriff’s office, but when she did not appear, a summons was issued on the charge, McFarland said.

“The purpose of the meeting was not to arrest her but to talk to her, [but] the evidence was that she was going to be charged anyway,” he said. “The primary purpose of the meeting was to complete the investigation.

“We looked at the missing money and examined the documents and interviewed everybody, and [this is] where everything led us.”

The sheriff’s department began the investigation at the request of the Maine U.S. Attorney General’s office, which was contacted by the Blue Hill selectmen after a routine audit last year discovered discrepancies in bank deposits in 2016 and 2017.

Approximately $9,700 cash of a $650,000 deposit made in October 2016, when many citizens were paying their property taxes, was unaccounted for, town auditor James Wadman said in January this year. Selectmen then asked Wadman to look into 2017 records, where he found three more discrepancies.

While the alleged theft occurred over a period of time, McFarland said it is being aggregated as one case.

Murphy, hired after long-time town treasurer Ann Stadden retired in 2014, was placed on administrative leave on October 5, 2017; after a November 12 disciplinary hearing was continued, she resigned her position. She has retained an attorney, who received the summons on her behalf, McFarland noted.

Murphy has previously, and emphatically, stated that she is not responsible for the missing funds.

“We believe in due process,” Schatz said. “It’s in other hands now.”

Town treasurers are bonded employees, so the town will recoup the loss.