March 17, 2010

Theft at animal shelter probed

— Blethen Maine News Service

WATERVILLE — Police are investigating the theft of more than $16,500 from the cash drawer at the Humane Society Waterville Area.

The theft occurred over a period of several months starting in July, but officials at the animal shelter were unaware that money was disappearing, said Deputy Police Chief Charles Rumsey.

He said the theft was discovered Jan. 9 through an internal audit.

''We received a complaint from the Humane Society Waterville Area that they suspected an employee stole money from the organization,'' Rumsey said Wednesday. No one has been charged.

Detective Dan Goss, who is investigating the theft, said the audit showed $16,578.65 missing.

''They discovered a certain amount of money that was supposed to be left in the cash register in certain bill denominations was off, and they started researching it and it all snowballed,'' Goss said.

Goss said the money was taken through pet-adoption transactions.

''If you came in to adopt a pet and paid cash, (the employee) would process the adoption, but instead of entering cash into the register or ledger, it would be pocketed,'' he said.

The shelter's executive director, Paula Mitchell, said that she could not discuss the matter while it is under investigation.

Mitchell said 13 employees, full time and part time, work at the shelter, which also uses volunteers. It operates on about $350,000 a year, with money coming from donations and memberships.

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