BANGOR — Gary Dorman, the Corinna town manager who resigned amid accusations he used town funds for personal use, was sentenced Friday to 30 days in jail for theft.
Appearing in Penobscot County Superior Court surrounded by more than two dozen supporters, Dorman apologized to his family, the town selectmen and the residents of Corinna.
His words echoed those he wrote in his Nov. 4 resignation letter, which was released Friday by his attorney.
“I apologize to each and every one of you for violating your trust and faith in me, and want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve my community even if I violated that opportunity and will pay for it the rest of my life,” Dorman wrote.
He stated it would be “agonizing” to face his fellow residents again, and asked them to “remember me for the good things I accomplished, not just the bad things.”
Dorman pleaded guilty Friday to Class C theft, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. The charge resulted from an internal town audit that showed that Dorman made out checks for cash and undocumented purchases totaling nearly $44,000.
His attorney, Kenneth Fredette of Newport, said Dorman’s crime was “unauthorized use of funds.” Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts stopped short of accusing Dorman of embezzlement.
“He took funds that he had access to as town manager of Corinna,” Roberts said in an interview. “I’ll let you make your own conclusions.”
Roberts credited the discovery of the misconduct to Corinna Selectman Doug Tibbetts. After the hearing, Tibbetts said the board received information of alleged improprieties as early as August, but he would not disclose the source of that information. Those allegations sparked the internal audit that led to Dorman’s resignation.
In a Dec. 17 letter to the Board of Selectmen, auditor Bruce Fowle listed more than 200 checks written on the town’s account to Dorman and Sam’s Club from 1993 to 1997. The checks were signed by Dorman, either by hand or signature stamp. Those made out to Dorman frequently contained his signature or the stamp of the town.
Roberts characterized the theft as a crime of trust. The checks were charged to town accounts in small increments. Without either a purchase order or receipt system for tracking expenditures, selectmen failed to notice out-of-the-ordinary expenses when they reviewed the town warrant each month.
In the worst instance, Roberts said, town funds were used to purchase a personal computer that was installed in Dorman’s home.
Justice Andrew Mead sentenced Dorman to two years in jail with all but 30 days suspended, midway between the state’s recommendation of 60 days and the defense request for no jail time. Dorman will begin serving his sentence Monday.
The prosecution recommendation was made against the will of members of the Board of Selectmen, who were satisfied with the restitution agreement Dorman signed with them last week, according to Selectman Tibbetts.
Dorman signed a promissory note, secured by a mortgage on his home, to repay the town $13,314 over two years. He had paid $30,413 to the town earlier.
In court and in writing, scores of Dorman’s supporters asked the court for leniency. A letter from resident Bruce Hudson was typical:
“I am not sure there are many qualified managers who would have done the things you did: Mowing lawns, cleaning the streets with the snow blower, sweeping streets, probably driving the snow plow, and many other menial tasks which would not fall in the job description of a town manager …,” he wrote.
And from Linda Smith of Corinna’s Hillacre Farms: “There have been comments like `We don’t care if he took money, he wasn’t paid enough anyway.’ We have not heard one negative remark.”
Town officials said it’s time to move on.
“I’m looking forward to forgetting about this whole mess,” Tibbetts said. “It’s been very stressful for everyone involved.”
Given the secrecy that surrounded Dorman’s resignation for weeks, his public prosecution was suprisingly swift. The former manager made an information plea, a common practice that allows suspects to waive the usual arrest and indictment process.
In a related matter, Bangor Daily News attorney Thad Zmistowski indicated Friday the paper would drop its freedom-of-access suit against the town of Corinna.
The suit was filed in December when town attorney Josh Tardy, citing personnel constraints, denied a request from the NEWS for Dorman’s resignation letter and communication between the selectmen and the town auditor.
“Because the NEWS has in its possession all the information it sought through the Freedom of Information Act, it no longer makes sense to continue the court action, and therefore it will be dropped,” Zmistowski said.
NEWS reporter Sharon Mack contributed to this report.
Gary Dorman’s letter of resignation
Following is the text of a letter former Corinna Town Manager Gary Dorman sent Nov. 4 to the town’s Board of Selectmen:
It is with deep regret and humility that I tender my resignation as Town Manager effective immediately. I feel that I have explained to the best of my ability what I did and why I did it, and I also understand that you feel this is not adequate.
At the times I was withdrawing funds for supplies and compensation for extra time worked, I felt I was justified. I can see now it was not the proper or ethical way to do it and I apologize for it.
I take full responsiblity for my actions and will accept any legal action the town decides to take against me for these actions. I do not intend to put the town thru anymore heartache and pain than I already have.
I apologize to each and everyone of you for violating your trust and faith in me, and want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve my community even if I violated that opportunity and will pay for it the rest of my life. I love the Town of Corinna and its citizens and it is going to be an agonizing ordeal to face them knowing I have also violated their trust. Hopefully in years to come the town and its citizens will remember me for the good things I accomplished, not just the bad things.
I intend to make full restitution to the town for the total amount the auditor feels I did not have authorization for. Again, I can not say how sorry I am for violating your trust and confidence, and respect any and all decisions you will need to make to satisfy this mess.
Gary R. Dorman