WINSLOW — A former bookkeeper for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8835 in Winslow is facing a criminal charge and a civil lawsuit in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the Winslow post and its Ladies Auxiliary.

Cara Bird, 34, of Whipple Street, has admitted misappropriating more than $7,700 from the VFW and is accused of stealing at least $1,500 from the Ladies Auxiliary. According to police, she was the bookkeeper for both groups from 2011 to 2014.

Bird is scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court next month for a disclosure hearing to determine her ability to repay the debt. She was charged with theft from the Ladies Auxiliary in December, but an investigation into other missing money is ongoing.

Bird declined to comment when reached on Tuesday afternoon at her house.

In early June 2014, Bird signed a promissory note agreeing to repay $7,719 taken from the VFW, plus interest at an annual rate of 9.6 percent. In the note, Bird admits having misappropriatied “monies for my own personal use” and “careless handling of my responsibilities as bookkeeper” of VFW accounts.

The Winslow VFW owns a building on Veterans Drive that it uses as a lounge and event center.

According to the terms of the note, Bird was expected to pay $50 per week toward the debt but never made any payments, according to a lawsuit filed by the VFW in late November in Waterville District Court. According to court documents, Bird never responded to the complaint, leading to a default judgment against her.

In the judgment filed in mid-January, the court clerk awarded the VFW the entire amount it sought, plus $155 in court costs.

On April 10, Bird is scheduled to appear in court for a disclosure hearing, at which she will be ordered to provide financial information so a judge can determine her ability to pay the debt.

In an email Tuesday, Augusta attorney Roger Katz, who is representing the VFW in the case, said the group intends to recover its money.

“This is money Ms. Bird acknowledged she took,” Katz said. “She signed a promissory note but has now refused to actually pay it back. We now have a judgment against her and fully intend to collect it.”

While the VFW pursued a civil remedy to recover the funds Bird admitted misappropriating, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary turned the matter over to the Winslow police.

According to Detective Ron McGowen, in June 2014, police started investigating a report that money was missing from the auxiliary’s accounts. Bird was charged with theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, a class C offense, in early December, he reported. Bird was summoned on the charge and not arrested, McGowen said.

The charge is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

After Bird was charged, however, police received information that more money was missing than previously believed, and the case is still under investigation, McGowen said. A court date has not been set for Bird in that case, he added.

Reached Tuesday, Brenda Blair, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation, and referred questions to Winslow police.

Officials with the parent VFW post ultimately reported Bird’s theft to the police in mid-June, McGowen said, but only after she had signed the promissory note.

Because the VFW had resolved the issue through a civil agreement, the police could not pursue criminal charges, McGowen said.

“Due to the circumstances of the case, we determined it was a civil matter,” he said.

Bird’s case marks the fourth time in four years that Winslow police have investigated an embezzlement case involving a nonprofit group in the town.

Last month, police issued a court summons for Charles Spaulding, 43, charging him with stealing more than $15,000 from the Winslow Travel Soccer Club while he was the group’s treasurer.

In October 2013, Wendi Willette, 41, was accused of stealing at least $10,000 from the Winslow High School Wrestling Booster Club while serving as the club’s treasurer. In February, Willette pleaded guilty to charges in connection with that theft and to stealing a smaller amount from the China Girls Field Hockey Team and as much as $60,000 in state assistance.

Ervin Morrison, 54, who was arrested in February for stealing $17,000 from All-Pro Sports in Waterville, was charged previously with class C theft from the Winslow Midget Football Association in 2011, but the charge was dismissed after restitution was paid in January 2012, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Police have said the embezzlement cases are not believed to be connected with one another.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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