Former Westbrook employee accused of embezzling $118,000

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A former employee of the city of Westbrook is being accused of skimming $118,000 from cash deposits during a nine-month period.

In the statement released Wednesday, Mayor Colleen Hilton said the suspected embezzlement was caught by local agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Westbrook police officer who was working with the bureau.

“It is my responsibility as your mayor to report that the city of Westbrook has recently been the victim of a crime, an internal embezzlement by a former employee,” she said in the statement.

Hilton said interviews with the former city employee, plus an examination of city financial records by the FBI, the city’s independent auditor and the city’s chief financial officer “confirmed that the embezzlement had taken place between July 2015 and April 2016.”

The identity of the employee has not been released. Hilton said that because the investigation is still ongoing, and charges have not yet been filed against the former employee, “the city is not at liberty at this time to identify the individual or to divulge the specifics of this matter.”

In response to the discovery of the embezzlement, Hilton said in her statement that the city has already taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“In addition to addressing operations, staffing and procedures within the Finance Department, the city’s human resources director is reviewing city hiring practices to assure that the scope and depth of background investigations of potential hires, particularly those involved in city finances, is commensurate with the positions being filled,” she said.

The city’s financial record-keeping has been at issue in past years, but this year’s audit garnered a “clean” rating for the city.

Rumors had circled throughout the city over the possible missing funds for the past few weeks.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said they had been working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to release what information they could to the public.

“Were giving the public everything we can give them at this time,” he said Wednesday.

This story will be updated.

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