WEST BATH — A Richmond woman who pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of forgery and taking money from a member account at the credit union where she worked was sentenced Wednesday to serve 45 days in jail.

Clarissa Hurley, 51, who had worked at the Down East Credit Union in Richmond, was sentenced to 18 months, with all but 45 days suspended, and two years of probation. She also will be required to pay back the $8,500 that she stole.

At West Bath District Court, Justice Daniel Billings said a sentence of six to nine months could be justified easily, but he considered mitigating factors. In announcing Hurley’s sentence, Billings said the start of it would be stayed until April 6 because Hurley has medical appointments scheduled.

“In this case, although you started from meager circumstances in life, you overcame that,” Billings said. “You had the American success story and the system worked for you. You have been able to live a good life and achieve reasonable economic success. You threw that all away when you committed that crime.”

In her statement to the court, Hurley acknowledged she had betrayed the trust of her co-workers at the credit union.

“I was so very stupid,” Hurley said.

“If any good can come from this,” she said, ” it’s the many conversations I’ve had with my daughters about how in one second, your integrity can completely disappear and you may never get that back.”

Hurley said small-town rumors flew after the charges against her became public that were hurtful to her, her husband and her two daughters, including allegations that the cause of a fire that broke out in their home was arson. The state fire marshal’s office determined the cause was a faulty dryer.

Assistant District Attorney A.J. Chalifour likened Hurley’s crime to a bank robbery, and said she had abused a level of trust that she had built up over her life when she twice took money from a member’s account — first $4,000 and then $4,500 — and forged the account holder’s name on the receipt.

What sets the case apart, he said, is that Hurley accused the members of the credit union of setting her up, putting the credit union in the difficult position because its employees could not respond to questions from members and residents or defend themselves because of the pending court case.

“There was no real reason for this to happen and no real reason for her to lash out at her co-workers,” Chalifour said.

Leonard Sharon, an attorney with Andrucki & King, of Lewiston, said in pleading guilty, Hurley accepted responsibility for actions. He asked Billings to take into consideration the “totality of circumstances,” including Hurley’s health.

In addition to being injured in a crash shortly after she was fired, she has been diagnosed with a seizure order with an unknown cause.

Billings said because there was no threat of violence, the crime could not be compared to bank robbery.

While employees of the credit union were the court room Wednesday, they declined to speak. Two credit union officials, Daniel Daggett and Carol Hoopingarner, submitted victim impact statements. In the statements, they said they were surprised at the accusations Hurley had leveled at the credit union, whose reputation was damaged in the wake of the charges becoming known.

Daggett said in 25 years, during which there was one other count of embezzlement, two armed robberies repossessions, foreclosures and employee terminations, he had never had so many questions about what had happened at the credit union.

Three town residents submitted comments supporting Hurley and attesting to her character: O’Neil LaPlante, chairman of the Richmond Selectboard; David Thompson, former selectman; and Sherry Loon.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

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Twitter: @JLowellKJ