Maine Tourism Association Grapples With Employee Theft
The tourism group's former human resources and finance manager pleaded guilty this week to felony theft in relation to charges that he stole to $116,000 from the association's coffers. The employee faces at least a year in prison as part of his plea deal.
The potential for embezzlement threatens many organizations, and in the case of one association in Maine, it will likely lead to jail time for a former employee.
Ronald Brann, who worked at the Maine Tourism Association (MTA) between 2010 and 2012, was caught after an employee raised questions about charges on a corporate credit card as Brann was leaving the position, according to The Morning Sentinel. After an investigation, the former human resources and finance manager eventually admitted to police that he had used the money to pay personal expenses, including medical bills, his mortgage, and recreational golf and ski trips.
The association lost $127,000 in total—$116,000 stolen by Brann, plus the cost of an audit the group undertook. That total was significantly higher than initial reports, which alleged that Brann had stolen more than $10,000.
Since then, MTA has worked to improve its standards, according to its leadership.
“This former employee was able to circumvent security safeguards that we had in place at the time,” CEO Vaughn Stinson wrote in a letter to the association’s members, according to the Bangor Daily News. “Those safeguards have been upgraded and will continue to be monitored.”
Brann agreed to plead guilty in a deal that involves a five-year sentence, with all but a year and 200 days suspended, followed by three years of probation. The sentence could be reduced further if Brann pays $10,000 in restitution before his sentencing hearing, which is in 60 days. The restitution payment would shorten his sentence to a year.
The Morning Sentinel report notes that the MTA’s insurer agreed that the first $28,000 of any restitution paid can go directly to the association.