Anson Tax Collector Claudia Viles has been indicted by a Somerset County grand jury on charges of theft, failure to pay Maine state income tax on six counts, failure to make and file Maine state income tax returns on five counts and tampering with public records.

The indictment was filed in Somerset County Unified Court on Thursday, according to the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

It states that between January 2009 and September 2014, Viles stole more than $10,000 from the town of Anson, that she failed to file or pay state income taxes each of those years and failed to file income tax returns from 2009 through 2013.

The indictment also states that on March 2, Viles tampered with public records by intentionally destroying, concealing or removing copies of state motor vehicle registration forms belonging to the town.

Viles was at work Friday at the Town Office and said she had no comment on the indictment.

“The indictment means very little at this point,” said Viles’ attorney, Walter McKee, in an email. “Claudia will of course plead not guilty.”

While not an indicator of guilt, an indictment is a formal accusation that indicates the grand jury believes there is enough evidence to go to trial.

The charges are the culmination of an investigation into nearly a half-million dollars in missing excise tax money at the Anson Town Office that town officials and law enforcement have been working on since March.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Arnold Luce said Friday that the charges didn’t come as a surprise, through he wouldn’t comment when asked whether he believes Viles took money from the Town Office. A civil lawsuit the town has filed against her claims she misappropriated $438,712 in excise tax money over the last four years.

“There are still things happening. Things need to run their course in the court system and we’ll find out what evidence (the attorney general) found,” Luce said. He said there is nothing the town can do to put Viles on leave or limit her duties while the charges are pending, since state law requires a criminal conviction to remove an elected official from office and the town has no recall ordinance.

Viles has denied every accusation against her in the civil lawsuit, according to court records.

Her attorney, McKee, recently requested that the court put the suit on hold while the criminal case is pending, saying that “moving forward with the civil case at this time would significantly prejudice Viles, whereas a stay would not significantly impact the town.”

Somerset County Justice Robert Mullen approved the request on Aug.31 and also agreed to let the court put a lien on Viles’ property at the town’s request while the cases are pending.

McKee said the criminal charges against Viles are an opportunity to review the attorney general’s case, which was not public record before.

“Thankfully, we will now finally have access to all of the investigative records in this case and can start piecing together what happened,” he said.

The civil lawsuit claims that Viles omitted amounts she collected in excise tax from the town’s accounting system, knowingly recorded inaccurate amounts she collected in excise tax and reprinted calculator tapes with altered figures to make it appear that the amount of money collected matched what was being deposited.

Court records also include copies of letters from the town’s auditor, Purdy Powers & Co., documenting the loss of $438,712 over the last four years, as well as a search warrant that state police executed at Viles’ home in April and affidavits written by a state police detective and Luce.

The search warrant yielded $58,500 in cash that police confiscated as part of their investigation. The court denied Viles’ request to recover the money, which she claimed had been seized unfairly.

The affidavit by Luce states that Viles is the only employee in the town who handles the collection, depositing and recording of town tax receipts and revenue.

A mistake in the tax recordkeeping was noted by former administrative assistant Tammy Murray when the town implemented a new computer system in September 2014, the court records said.

Richard Emerson, an accountant for Purdy Powers, met with Viles and Luce in March in the back room of an accounting firm in Madison to review the tax records, at which point Viles started crying and said, “I’m the tax collector. It’s my responsibility and I’ll pay it back,” the documents said.

She has been summoned to appear in court, but a date has not been set, McKee said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

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Twitter: @rachel_ohm