A Portland woman was convicted Friday of embezzling more than $330,000 in connection with the proposed sale of a paper mill in Baileyville.
A Cumberland County Superior Court jury took just over an hour to decide that 61-year-old Jody Flynn, a former principal of Greentree Renewable Energy Inc., had stolen the money in 2009 and 2010 from a Chinese investment firm and spent it on her daughter’s college tuition, a car, antiques and jewelry.
“They did not see this as a toughie, apparently,” said Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who prosecuted the case.
Despite having no formal training in investment work, Flynn formed Greentree with business partner Berthier “Bert” Martin to facilitate the Woodland paper mill’s sale to Guangzhou Dinson Engineering and Trading Limited, according to the indictment.
As part of the arrangement, Guangzhou Dinson’s parent company, Charmwell Holdings Ltd., wired $500,000 to Greentree, which was placed into a company checking account controlled solely by Flynn. The mill’s owner later decided not to sell, and the Chinese firm asked that the majority of its money – about $380,000 – be returned.
Instead of returning the money, Flynn repeatedly made up excuses over a two-month period to stall for time while she began “systematically withdrawing the funds from the Greentree account and depositing them in her personal accounts and into the account of an unrelated entity in which she had a 50 percent interest,” court documents say.
The mill owner later changed its position and completed the sale to Guangzhou Dinson. The investment firm deducted the money embezzled by Flynn from the $1.5 million commission Martin was supposed to receive for facilitating the sale. He later sued Flynn, but that case was put on hold pending the criminal trial.
According to the prosecution, Martin had no knowledge of Flynn’s criminal activity at the time she was stealing company funds.
Flynn’s defense attorney, Portland-based lawyer Thomas Hallett, said Tuesday that the jury’s decision was “an unfortunate result to a very complicated (case).”
In court documents and depositions, Flynn had defended herself initially by saying she had not spent the money but had moved it to her personal account to protect it from other parties involved in the sale, whom she accused of being dishonest. After the prosecutor obtained documents showing that Flynn had spent the money, she changed her story and said the company had loaned it to her.
Hallett said the defense throughout the trial had contended that the case should have been adjudicated in civil court, and that there was no criminal activity.
“We certainly intend to pursue both post-trial motions and an appeal,” he said.
Robbin said a paper trail that included bank records and emails comprised the bulk of evidence against Flynn, because they showed gross inconsistencies between her words and actions.
“What she said and what she did were two very different things,” Robbin said.
Flynn’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 29 at Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.
CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:37 p.m. on Aug. 25 to correct the sentencing date.