ALFRED – The former president of Biddeford’s La Kermesse festival pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that she took or misused money belonging to the festival and to a condominium association.

Priscille Gagnon, 70, was indicted last week in York County Superior Court on two counts of theft by unauthorized taking and two counts of misuse of entrusted property.

Prosecutors say the charges involve money from the festival, which honors Biddeford’s French-Canadian heritage, and the Western Oaks Condominium Association. The indictment says both cases involved more than $10,000.

Gagnon resigned as festival president earlier this year, saying personal reasons were behind her decision.

Festival officials said they called police earlier this year after learning a line of credit at a credit union that was supposed to have been closed six years ago was still active.

The credit union had contacted a former treasurer of the festival, saying that payments on the credit line were several months past due.

The treasurer knew the line was supposed to have been closed and he contacted festival officials who, in turn, called police. An investigation led to Gagnon’s indictment.

Last year’s festival suffered significant losses because of poor attendance and a ride operator shutting down early.

This year, the city denied the festival use of its longtime home, St. Louis Field, because the festival could not post a bond to cover potential damage to the field. A curtailed festival will be held June 25-27 at the Biddeford Ice Arena.

A parade, carnival rides and fireworks — all part of past festivals — will not be included this year.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]