BANGOR – Former Millinocket Town Manager James F. Kotredes was indicted Monday on a felony theft charge for allegedly using a town credit card to steal between $15,000 and $20,000 from the town between 1995 and 1997.
A Penobscot County grand jury handed up the indictment against Kotredes, 43, now of Brewer, on the theft charge, which could carry a maximum 10 years in prison.
“The credit card was used for a variety of personal expenses,” Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said at a Monday afternoon news conference, adding that the card was used primarily for clothing, meals, gasoline and other car expenses.
In December 1998, Kotredes served 30 days of a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to stealing $11,000 from the Millinocket Youth Hockey Association. Kotredes stole the money when he was Millinocket’s town manager, a position he held from 1993 to 1997.
As part of his sentence, Kotredes also was placed on one-year probation and ordered to repay the money. He already has made restitution to the group.
Kotredes left the Millinocket post in 1997 to become city manager of Brewer. He resigned the Brewer post in the wake of his legal problems in Millinocket.
At his December 1998 sentencing, Kotredes apologized to townspeople for the theft, which included about $100 from a scholarship established in memory of a 12-year-old Millinocket boy who died in 1997.
“My heart goes out to the children and the people I have hurt,” he said. “I am truly sorry.”
Reached at home Monday, Kotredes said he had not yet heard of the recent indictment, but denied the allegations.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “There’s not one purchase there that didn’t go through council.”
Almy said the monthly credit card statements presented to the council did not include an itemized expense record. Those itemized bills were not provided even after requested by council members, according to Almy.
“I disagree with that,” Kotredes said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
The credit card was issued to the town of Millinocket, with Kotredes as an authorized user.
The indictment came as the result of a Maine State Police investigation requested by Millinocket town officials, who had conducted an internal audit of the books after Kotredes’ 1998 theft convictions.
Town Manager Gene Conlogue said Monday that the audit raised several questions among council members, who passed the information along to state prosecutors.
“Just because they were approved, doesn’t mean they were legitimate,” Conlogue said of the expenses. “This has been hanging out there for two years, so hopefully this will bring some closure.”
Additional credit card charges were made for hotel rooms, cash advances, mail orders, and golf course expenses, according to town officials.
“It’s a sad situation, when charges like this are brought, especially against a public official,” Conlogue later added. “For the public sector to work, there has to be trust. These kind of charges undermine that trust.”
Kotredes will appear in Penobscot County Superior Court in the next few weeks to face the charge, according to Almy.
A grand jury does not determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant, only whether the state has enough evidence to proceed to trial.